A reminder to advisers, the code of ethics you adopted probably requires quarterly reports to be prepared for all personal securities transactions made by access persons. If it doesn’t there are two possible reasons (1) chances are you haven’t read it, or (2) you don’t have one — in which case you need to first read Rule 204A-1 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
The Timing of Transaction Reports
Under Rule 204A-1(b)(2), these reports are due no later than 30 days after the close of the calendar quarter. Access persons who would be submitting duplicate information contained in trade confirmations or account statements that an adviser holds in its records (provided the adviser has received those confirmations or statements not later than 30 days after the close of the calendar quarter in which the transaction takes place) may be excused by their investment advisers from submitting transaction reports.
Who is an access person?
Rule 204A-1(e)(1) defines an access person as a supervised person who has access to nonpublic information regarding clients’ purchase or sale of securities, is involved in making securities recommendations to clients or who has access to such recommendations that are nonpublic. Further, a supervised person who has access to nonpublic information regarding the portfolio holdings of affiliated mutual funds is also an access person, but only to the extent they make, participate in, or obtain information regarding, the purchase and sale of the fund’s securities, or if their functions relate to the making of any recommendations for such transactions.
This definition is broad enough to include, for example,
(i) portfolio management personnel and, in some organizations, client service representatives who communicate investment advice to clients;
(ii) administrative, technical, and clerical personnel if their functions or duties give them access to nonpublic information;
(iii) organizations where employees may have broad responsibilities, and fewer information barriers are in place to prevent access to nonpublic information. On the other hand, as the SEC has noted, organizations that keep strict controls on sensitive information may have fewer access persons; and
(iv) presumably if the firm’s primary business is providing investment advice, then all of its directors, officers and partners would be access persons.
When must access persons report personal securities transactions?
Under Rule 204A-1(b), each of an adviser’s access persons must report his securities holdings at the time that the person becomes an access person and at least once annually thereafter. Further, they must make to the adviser’s Chief Compliance Officer or other designated person a report at least once quarterly of all personal securities transactions in reportable securities.
What are “reportable securities”?
Rule 204A-1 treats all securities as reportable securities, but list five exceptions designed to exclude securities that appear to present little opportunity for the type of improper trading that the access person reports are designed to uncover. These include transactions and holdings in:
- direct obligations of the Government of the United States.
- money market instruments — bankers’ acceptances, bank certificates of deposit, commercial paper, repurchase agreements and other high quality short-term debt instruments.
- shares of money market funds.
- shares of other types of mutual funds, unless the adviser or a control affiliate acts as the investment adviser or principal underwriter for the fund.
- units of a unit investment trust if the unit investment trust is invested exclusively in unaffiliated mutual funds.
There are other exceptions. For example, under Rule 204A-1, no reports are required for transactions effected under an automatic investment plan; No reports are required for securities held in accounts over which the access person has no direct or indirect influence or control; and finally, under Rule 204A-1(d), no report is required in the case of an advisory firm that has only one access person, so long as the firm maintains records of the holdings and transactions that rule 204A-1 would otherwise require be reported.
There are other requirements in Rule 204A-1, the Code of Ethics Rule, covering access persons transactions and holdings that advisers should review. These includes such issues as pre-approval of certain investments, review of personal holdings and transaction reports, procedures to address personal trading and reporting of violations.