The SEC, as part of their initiative around the new liquidity rule, has given the green light for funds to implement Swing Pricing. For those not familiar with the Swing Pricing concept, basically it allows a fund to bump up or down their end of day NAV to help cover their increased transactional costs when market volatility causes higher than normal purchases or redemptions. It will be voluntary for a fund company if they want to implement Swing Pricing. Funds are prohibited from implementing it until November 19, 2018, in order to give those funds that do not have experience with Swing Pricing time to implement needed system changes. Swing Pricing is popular in Europe and those funds with a presence in Europe would perhaps have an advantage in being able to implement earlier than other funds, hence the delayed date.
In light of the upcoming DOL Rule, the SEC recently issued guidance to funds on disclosure issues and certain procedural requirements with offering variations in fund sales loads and new share classes. The SEC IM Guidance Update appears to be an attempt by the SEC to not only provide needed guidance to funds, but to also to alleviate for SEC staff what could become an avalanche of new filings. Read more
The new DOL Fiduciary rule has barely gone into effect, and it is already starting to shake things up. One of the first changes we are starting to see is a new set of mutual fund share classes. American Funds and Franklin Templeton have already announced new share classes to help advisors deal with the new fiduciary rule. Rest assured, there will be more.
These new share classes are what some are calling “stripped down” share classes as they carry no sales load, no 12b-1 fees and no sub-TA fees. Bare bones. Absolutely no compensation from the fund to the distributor. It is up to the distributor to figure out how to charge their clients and in turn compensate the advisor.
The Money Market reforms promulgated by the SEC became effective October 14, 2016. The implications of the reforms go deep and wide, both with the mutual funds that offer money market funds, but also for the firms that offer money market funds on their platforms. One segment of firms particularly hard hit by the reforms is banks. Bank trust accounts receive untold cash items every day, from everything from dividends to rental income. There are just too many of these small transactions to invest individually in mid or long term investments. Banks have used money market funds as sweep vehicles for many years to park this constant flow of cash receipts until ready to invest in longer term investments. Money market funds have been a convenient vehicle to park cash and earn interest while still being considered similar to cash, as the funds always maintained a one dollar per share value. Read more
The phrase, “knowledge is power,” takes on a special meaning when a paucity of knowledge leads to potential issues that leave a company fumbling around in a dark room, looking for a black cat, only to be saved when someone turns the lights back on. When Mutual Funds companies’ clients started moving away from trading in fully disclosed accounts to consolidated omnibus accounts, they lost their ability to monitor their fund trade activity. Compliance with prospectus defined rules became impossible to monitor and data became the black cat in the black room. However, due to market demand for more than summarized trade activity, transparency has reemerged within omnibus accounts. How this happened, who it impacted and what has been done to remediate the problem is the focus of this week’s journey into the fund industry’s Twilight Zone. Read more
In the last couple of years, FINRA has been taking a hard look at brokers that have been selling A shares to retirement plans to make sure they were waiving the load, if the fund allowed such a waiver. Well, it turns out that a lot of brokers have been selling A shares into retirement plans at POP (Public Offering Price), that is, the participants in the plan paid a front end load when the fund’s prospectus allowed those shares to be sold with no load. What’s the result of this activity? A FINRA investigation into broker dealer firms. So why is this happening now? Let’s take a step back and examine the players in this party. Read more
Burton’s Blog: SEC, Dodd Frank, Money Market Reform and FSOC: Connecting the Dots between the Acronyms
The Money Market Reform (MMR) rules being enacted by the SEC have left me feeling a little like we have a cure that is worse than the disease. The SEC generally does a fair job in weighing the costs versus the benefits of enacting regulations (I am stretching a little here) but this one just doesn’t feel right, so I decided to do a little research to see what made this rule change seem so different from prior SEC rule changes.
In part one of this post I opened the lid on the Pandora’s Box of mutual fund share classes (from A-Z, without U), currently floating around the industry; in part two we’ll examine why, beyond sheer confusion, this marketing practice is problematic.
Other than just being able to clearly identify the type of share class you are investing in, there are other issues with all multiple share classes. A lot of penalties have been imposed on firms by the SEC and FINRA for utilizing the wrong share class, either in retirement plans or Wrap accounts. With all the share class options available, is it any wonder they are being utilized improperly, either by design or by accident? Let’s look at some of the issues around using the wrong share class. Read more
What’s The Matter with U: “U” is absent in the current offering of 375 Mutual Fund Share Class names
Personally, I don’t like going to a restaurant where the menu just goes on and on, making me wonder if they can really prepare all those selections equally well! I also have a problem with mutual fund share classes, on a number of levels. Like certain restaurant menus, they are endless.
I recently looked at a common mutual fund industry database and found over 375 share class names. Back in the old days you had A, B and C shares. Today you’ve got share classes named after every letter in the alphabet, except the letter U. The letter R appears to be very popular, like appetizers; you can have an R, R1, R2, R3, R4, R5 or R6 share class. Looking for a main course? The names include some nice descriptive examples such as Ultra, Select, Retail, Prime, Premier, Direct, Classic, VIP and hundreds more. I am left to ponder, is U like monkey brains: something found in movies, but not on real menus? And why do we need all these names in the first place?
Meeting the Needs of an Industry via Innovative Software Products: Mandates versus Evolution – Part 2
This is the second part of a two part posts concerning risks associated with developing new software products under two different scenarios: mandates and evolution. In the first part we discussed developing products due to mandates; in this second part we’ll explore developing products due to industry evolution. This discussion will be supported with examples of actual Delta Data Software products. Read more
Meeting the Needs of an Industry via Innovative Software Products: Mandates versus Evolution – Part 1
Much to her chagrin, I have told my wife many times that operating a software products company is like being a riverboat gambler. It is exciting, risky, and involves timing, industry savvy and a good relationship with Lady Luck (she hates it when I mention other women!) As a software product company focused 100% on the mutual fund and pooled products industry, Delta Data will generally see software development opportunities emerge in two distinct ways. First, there are the opportunities that present themselves as a result of mandated legislation. Then there are the opportunities that are discovered through an evolution within the industry itself. Each of the two opportunities has its pros and cons. To be successful, software companies need to recognize these opportunities and bring innovative products to the market faster and better than the bigger fish in the pond. Of course this innovation involves risk, hence the relationship with gambling. Read more
In my last blog article, I talked about how retirement plans had evolved from employer sponsored and employer run profit sharing plans into outsourced participant directed 401(k) plans. One of the big differences between the old profit sharing plans and today’s 401(k) plan that I did not get to mention in the last article is the use of employer stock in the retirement plan. Read more