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Share Class Selection

Share Class Selection

 

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Thank you, Colleen. That was good insights. Next priority, share class selection. Again, this is a priority that stems from a risk alert, so I would encourage you to review the risk alerts in July 13, 2016. To start off, share class issues are nothing new. In fact, this is something that I often looked at while I was an examiner the SEC, even around the turn of the century this was something that we were looking at. 

There a plethora of enforcement actions to demonstrate that this share class initiatives still is an issue. I do recommend if you do recommend or invest a client's assets be invested in mutual funds you should be on alert because the SEC staff has indicated in their risk alert that it will conduct focused risk based exams in this area as it relates to share class recommendations.

In your oversight of investment recommendations you should ensure that even corporate review that clients are being placed in the most appropriate share class. Just as examiners may do if they were to visit your firm you should firm's books and records to identify share classes held and purchased in clients accounts and any compensation received by a registered representative or an advisor. Your main purpose here is to test that clients are not being steered. Share classes that have higher sales charges and expenses that benefit, that line the pockets, of the registered representative that may not be, it could be, but may not be the share class that's most suitable for the client.

You should also identify all conflicts of interest and make sure that they are disclosed. There's a whole part in form ADV part two where you are to make disclosure about mutual funds. If your registered reps receive compensation from the sales mutual funds you're required to disclose that for the form ADV directions. If there's a conflict of interest that exists in recommending different share classes that should also be disclosed.

It's also a best practice and I've seen this and I like it when I see it to disclose the receipt of commissions and the conflicts with respect to the different share classes of mutual funds directly in investment advisory agreements or as an addendum to investment advisory agreements.

Another compliance best practice is to have clients acknowledge that the registered rep will receive a portion of sales commission or [inaudible 00:35:09] fees and also that this could create an incentive for them to recommend a higher fee paying share class.

Another thing you can do is to direct them to this really what I think is a really cool tool on the SEC's website if you haven't seen it already where you can input up to three mutual funds by share class and it will tell you what the most appropriate share class is given your expected holding period. If a client expects to have a five-year holding period versus a 10-year holding period that could influence the decision of which share class you should invest in. That's something that your advisors could do, that's something that you could do in overseeing if clients have been put in the proper share class. It's also something you could make your clients aware of too so that they can really understand share class differences, the retails investors.

Again, this is something you should monitor on a regular basis. If there is a transgression, you could be deemed by the SEC of not seeking best pricing execution and not acting in accordance of your fiduciary duty to very serious things if you were to be charged with that. Make sure that your review share classes that are recommended and that their appropriate documentation is maintained with respect to the reason a share class is recommended, particularly if it is a share class that does happen to be more lucrative for the registered representative.

Then, your compliance policies and procedures. I don't always see this in compliance policies, but I'd like to see it more often and the SEC did highlight in their risk alert the need for advisors making mutual fund share class selection to adopt and implement written policies and procedures designed to prevent violations in this area and that govern their selection process.

ATP, I'll turn it to Colleen to discuss the next priority.

 

 

Read 5 ways to improve Hedge Fund Compliance

 

This webinar was cohosted with NorthpointCompliance

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