Compliance Newsflash for May 6, 2020 – SEC Division of Investment Management and Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations Respond to COVID-19

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Division of Investment Management has provided guidance to investment advisers on numerous topics in response to COVID-19. The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) has also announced its exam priorities related to COVID-19.

Compliance Newsflash for May 6, 2020 – FINRA Warns of Fraudulent Phishing Emails Purporting to be from FINRA

FINRA warns member firms of a widespread, ongoing phishing campaign that involves fraudulent emails purporting to be from FINRA officers, including Bill Wollman and Josh Drobnyk. These emails have a source domain name “@broker-finra.org” and request immediate attention to an attachment relating to your firm. In at least in some cases, the emails do not actually include the attachment, in which case they may be attempting to gain the recipient’s trust so that a follow-up email can be sent with an infected attachment or link, or a request for confidential firm information. In other cases, what appears to be an attached PDF file may direct the user to a website which prompts the user to enter their Microsoft Office or SharePoint password. FINRA recommends that anyone who entered their password change it immediately and notify the appropriate individuals in their firm of the incident.

Benchmarking: Why Normalizing Adjustments are Essential

Benchmarking: Why normalizing adjustments are essential Financial statements aren’t particularly meaningful without a relevant basis of comparison. There are two types of “benchmarks” that a company’s financials can be compared to — its own historical performance and the performance of other comparable businesses.

Before you conduct a benchmarking study, however, it’s important to make normalizing adjustments to avoid any misleading comparisons. This is especially important when looking at periods that include atypical financial results due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But there are a variety of factors that require normalizing adjustments.

Compliance Newsflash for April 29, 2020 – COVID-19: Practice Note: Compliance Checklist For Private Fund Managers During A Pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually all businesses. Some have scaled back operations or close completely, while others have enacted business continuity plans (BCPs) and have ordered employees to work from home. Private fund managers have faced many of the same operational challenges, in addition to having to contend with horrific market conditions marked by a lack of liquidity, extreme volatility, and a bear market in almost every asset class.

Compliance Newsflash for April 29, 2020 – SEC Proposes to Modernize Framework for Fund Valuation Practices

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced last week that it has voted to propose a new rule that would establish a framework for fund valuation practices. The rule is designed to clarify how fund boards can satisfy their valuation obligations in light of market developments, including an increase in the variety of asset classes held by funds and an increase in both the volume and type of data used in valuation determinations.

COVID-19 Pandemic to Trigger Midyear Goodwill Impairment

Airlines, cruise ships, restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels and many other types of businesses are expected to report goodwill impairments for the first quarter of 2020 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The contagious disease that’s wreaking havoc worldwide is a clear triggering event that would cause many companies to have to test for impairment on an interim basis — before the scheduled annual testing date.

Disclosing COVID-19-Related Risks

Efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have led to suspension of many economic activities, putting unprecedented strain on businesses. On March 25, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued guidance about disclosure obligations related to COVID-19. This article highlights factors for companies to consider when assessing these risks.

Going, Going, Gone: Going Concern Assessments in the Midst of COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has adversely affected the global economy. Companies of all sizes in all industries are faced with closures of specific locations or complete shutdowns; employee layoffs, furloughs or restrictions on work; liquidity issues; and disruptions to their supply chains and customers. These negative impacts have brought the “going concern” issue to the forefront.

Compliance Newsflash for April 23, 2020 – Investment Adviser Compliance in the COVID-19 Pandemic – Pay Attention to Valuation and Strategy Deviation Issues

On April 7, 2020, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) released Risk Alerts for Reg BI and Form CRS. These Risk Alerts set forth OCIE’s expectations for firms’ compliance with Reg BI and Form CRS and provide broker-dealers with information about the scope and content of OCIE’s initial examinations following the compliance date of June 30, 2020. FINRA will take the same approach as set forth in the SEC Risk Alerts when FINRA examines broker-dealers and their associated persons for compliance with Reg BI and Form CRS. This initial approach will focus primarily on assessing whether firms have made a good faith effort to establish and implement policies and procedures reasonably designed to comply with Reg BI and Form CRS.