The burning issue for the mutual fund industry is whether the Trump administration will curtail or rescind the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. The nomination of Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary, who is anti-regulation, could mean changes to the fiduciary rule as it currently stands. While it’s meant to remedy conflicts of interest in the provision of commission-based retirement products, opponents fear it could lead to advisors to abandon mass-market clients. Read more
Today’s news declaring Andy Puzder as Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary does not bode well for the short-term prospect of moving the date of the DOL Fiduciary Rule. For the past several weeks, the consensus in our industry was that the date could be moved by the incoming Secretary. The caveat is that the incoming Labor Secretary’s ability to move the date hinges on his/her confirmation by the legislature in a timely manner. 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
Ignites recently published an article “Shops Zero In on Fund Pricing Risk Management” about a Deloitte survey that examined what Fund shops are spending time on — keeping their folks up at night. A breakout star this year is business continuity planning (BCP) of their key third party service providers. This topic is near and dear to Delta Data, given we thrive on being an integral part of our client’s execution of their business model. Our view on this subject is to embrace transparency for our clients to understand how we approach the critical need of service delivery. More importantly, we have some thoughts on how to best execute the oversight of the supply chain of services our clients have come to rely on to execute their business. Read more
The last several years have demonstrated an ongoing focus on transparency driven by guidance and rules from the governing bodies of the mutual fund industry. To date, most transparency initiatives have focused on Dealer to consumer transparency (404a and 408b2) and Dealer to Fund transparency that support a myriad of requirements from “Distribution in Guise” prospectus rule compliance including Rule 22c-2. The Department of Labor proposal reveals a new requirement on the horizon for increasing dealer transparency into the DOL’s fee and fiduciary requirements. So why has this become of interest to the DOL now? To understand this drive requires looking at the dealer infrastructure. 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?
The long awaited result of the SEC’s distribution in guise sweeps hit today; you can find the link here. Many of the points covered were expected, and most of the requirements for compliance identified are currently supported by the Oversight platform Delta Data actually developed in anticipation of this guidance. Here is the overarching theme in this news: the 12b1 plan represents the only funds that can be used for distribution expense, and anything that promotes sales in any way, whether direct or indirect, must be allocated as an expense to the advisor and/or other relevant service providers, not the fund. Fees related to distribution in excess of the 12b1 plan must be allocated to the advisor and/or other relevant service providers.