Dodd-Frank a year on: Where is the compliance industry now?

PEI PFC Forum 2013

These are my notes from the Private Fund Compliance Forum 2013. They are live notes, so excuse the typos.

David Smolen, Chief Compliance Officer, Silver Lake
Brynn Peltz, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
Roman A. Bejger, Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Providence Equity Partners, LLC
Michael Barnes, Senior Manager, Financial Services, Ernst & Young LLP

Fund managers fell into four categories: 1. those who accepted, 2. those who are still kicking and screaming, and 3. Those who are fighting and trying to find ways to escape, and 4. Those who registered and restructured to escape registration.

The panel felt that it’s inevitable that carried interest will be taxed differently. Of curse it’s felt inevitable for a few years and nothing has been implemented. In perspective, the change in tax of carried interest is estimated to be between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion per year.

As a result of the Volcker Rule, we are seeing more business development companies coming on line to address bank’s trading activity. Whenever the rule comes out it may have broad impact on funding and capital commitments for private funds.

There is an uncertainty about marketing rules with the changes mandated by the JOBS Act.

There is increased focus on fees as part of examinations. The SEC is trying to re-label fees, other than advisory fees, as compensation that could require broker-dealer registration. Brynn has seen this in several deficiency letters over the last few months. The SEC is asking examinees to explain why they do not have to register as a broker-dealer. Acquisition fees, disposition fees and other transaction based fees could trigger the question of broker-dealer registration. A marketing department is suspect if the employee compensation is tied to successful placement of interests in a fund.

The SEC does not seem to be using the term “presence exam” when initiating an exam. The panelists seem to think that the SEC is still robustly conducting regular exams and presence exams are not being conducted as widely as expected.

What additional responsibilities have you taken on post-registration?

  • Lobbyist registration
  • International blue sky law analysis
  • Review of secondary transfers
  • Form PF
  • Internal marketing of compliance
  • Tracking regulatory changes
  • EU’s AIFMD
  • FCPA

Is there personal liability for CCOs?

We are looking for more guidance in this area. Keep the CCO from having supervisory liability. If the CCO hands out discipline, then the CCO could be considered a supervisor and be held liable for the bad act. However, the cases imposing supervisory liability on CCO generally are at the extreme, involving fraud or other egregious acts.

Presence exams generally last a few days. Union examiners leave right at 5. Non-union may stay longer. Generally it’s 2 to 3 people, with a junior person, a mid-level manager, and a senior person who usually does not stay all day. Sometimes there will be a group of trainees. Sometimes enforcement will also come, but it may be just a learning experience and not an indication of wrongdoing. Ask for an exit interview. If it’s refused then the exam may not be over.


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