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Fee Disclosures, Fund Liquidity, Cryptocurrency Among OCIE’s 2018 Priorities

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and  Examinations published its exam priorities for 2018, again stressing its concern for retail investors and retirees. OCIE said it would focus on firms that have practices or business models that may increase the risk that investors will pay inadequately disclosed fees, expenses, or other charges. For mutual funds, OCIE said it would look into funds that: (1) have experienced poor performance or liquidity in terms of their subscriptions and redemptions relative to their peer groups, (ii) are managed by advisers with little experience managing registered investment companies, or (iii) hold securities which are potentially difficult to value during times of market stress. OCIE will also focus on ETFs and mutual funds that seek to track custom-built indexes to review for any conflicts the adviser may have with the index provider, among other things. Other exam areas include compliance programs and oversight practices for robo-advisers, cryptocurrency, initial coin offerings, secondary market trading, and blockchain. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton along with CFTC Chair Christopher Giancarlo recently testified before Congress on the need for clearer regulatory controls in these new technologies.  OCIE also said that it may examine service providers and other firms, including clearing agencies, national securities exchanges, and transfer agents, focusing on aspects of their operations and compliance with recently effective rules.