Regulation of Private Fund Advisers at the State Level

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act raised the level for registration with the SEC and removed the commonly used exemption from registration used by private fund advisers. That means smaller traditional investment advisers will be kicked out of the SEC registration and into the state registration systems. That also means that advisers to funds with less than $150 million are potentially subject to state-level registration and regulation.

In general, advisers to private funds with less than $150 million in assets under management will be exempt from SEC registration but still must submit reports to the SEC and maintain certain books and records. This, along with venture capital fund advisers are the new “exempt reporting advisers” category. They are not excluded from the definition of “investment adviser” under the Investment Advisers Act and are not required to register under the Investment Advisers Act.

That means states are not preempted by Section 203A of the Investment Advisers Act from requiring “exempt reporting advisers” to register.

Advisers to private funds with more than $150 million under management are federal covered advisers and merely have to notice file in the states in which they maintain a place of business. (Investment adviser representatives for private fund advisers are required to register with the states if they meet the definition of investment adviser representative under SEC Rule 203A-3.)

The North American Securities Administrators Association has begun looking at the issue of how states with regulate private fund advisers under the $150 million level. They have issued their Proposed NASAA Model Rule on Private Fund Adviser Registration and Exemption.

The model rule would provide the basis for an exemption from state registration only for advisers only to 3(c)(7) funds, including venture capital funds formed under 3(c)(7). Presumably funds falling under the 3(c)(1) exemption would be subject to state registration.

Under the proposed model rule, an investment adviser solely to one or more private funds will be exempt from state registration requirements if the adviser satisfies certain specified conditions:

  • The adviser cannot be subject to a disqualification under 230.262 of title 17, Code of Federal Regulations.
  • The adviser’s clients must be limited to private funds that that qualify for the exclusion from the definition of “investment company” under Section 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act of 1940.
  • The adviser must file with the state the report required by the SEC for exempt reporting advisers.
  • The adviser must pay the fees specified by the state.

The proposed rule could change depending on how the SEC changes its proposals for implementing the new registration and reporting requirements in Release No. IA-3110 and Release No. IA-3111. Once the NASAA finalizes the proposed rule, it would be up to the states to adopt the rule. They may not adopt it all or may change it significantly.

NASAA is seeking comments on their proposed rule. Comments should be submitted electronically to, but written comments may be mailed to NASAA, Attn. Joseph Brady, 750 First Street, NE, Suite 1140, Washington, DC, 20002. The deadline for submission of comments is January 24, 2011.