SEC Releases New Form ADV Frequently Asked Questions

Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission released 23 new frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) on Form ADV to provide guidance on recent amendments to Form ADV. Those amendments become effective in October.

These new FAQs include guidance on (i) the umbrella registration approach that many private fund sponsors use to register multiple affiliates and (ii) the reporting of significant new information concerning separately managed accounts (not separate accounts).

There are four new FAQs on social media accounts. They are a bit weird. An adviser does not need to report a social media account if a third party controls the account content. So if you have a third party controlling your firm social media account under the firm name, it does not show up. On the other side, the firm does not have to report an employee’s account when the firm controls the account content.

There is an interesting FAQ on the differences between a private fund and a pooled investment vehicle in Item 5D. “[P]ooled investment vehicles include, but are not limited to, private funds.”

“Additionally, the staff believes for purposes of Item 5.D there are some facts and circumstances in which it may be appropriate for an adviser to treat a single-investor fund (also known as a “fund of one”) as a pooled investment vehicle. For example, an adviser could reasonably treat a single-investor fund as a pooled investment vehicle where the fund seeks to raise capital from multiple investors but has only a single, initial investor for a period of time, or where all but one of the investors in the fund have redeemed their interests. However, an adviser generally should not consider a single-investor fund to be a pooled investment vehicle if that entity in fact operates as a means for the adviser to provide individualized investment advice directly to the investor in the fund.”

As for distributing audited financial statements to meet the custody rule, the new FAQ in 7b makes it clear that

You may answer “Yes” if you will distribute the audited financial statements as required, but have not yet done so at the time of filing the Form ADV.

The SEC revised its FAQ on Item 1.O and points out question that many people trip over in Item 1.O. The question is whether the adviser has over $1 billion in assets. It’s not whether the adviser as more than $1 billion in AUM. “Non-proprietary assets, such as client assets under management, should be excluded when responding to Item 1.O, regardless of whether they appear on an investment adviser’s balance sheet.”