Investment Advisory

  • Represented four advisors transitioning from a “wirehouse” to an independent registered investment advisor in a breach of contract and fiduciary duty action. We defeated a TRO after a full-day evidentiary hearing following expedited briefing and discovery.
  • Represented a leading international partnership of independent, fiduciary wealth management firms. Conducted due diligence for the client’s acquisition of an RIA with $16.5 billion AUM.
  • Represented an investment advisor in an SEC investigation of conflicts of interest related to the firm’s recommendation of other registered investment advisors in conjunction with certain wrap fee programs.
  • Represented a senior executive of an RIA in an SEC investigation of the firm’s conversion of mutual fund share classes that charged 12b-1 fees in non-qualified advised accounts to share classes that did not charge 12b-1 fees. The matter was closed without any action against the senior executive.
  • Represented advisors in SEC and FINRA investigations of outside business activities which closed without any action against the advisors.
  • Represented team of advisors in successfully limiting the scope of a TRO that was issued ex parte.

Looking Forward

Morgan Stanley’s and UBS’s 2017 exit from the Protocol for Broker Recruiting led to an uptick in litigation stemming from advisors’ departures from wirehouses, and we expect to see this trend continue in 2019. In fiscal year 2018, SEC RIA enforcement actions totaled 821, an increase of nearly 32%. Stand-alone enforcement actions at the state level increased to 108 during this time. With the SEC remaining laser-focused on the “Main Street investor,” we expect 2019 to be another year of increased OCIE examinations resulting in increased referrals to enforcement. We believe there will be particular emphasis on ensuring that RIAs are making clear, plain-language disclosures to clients regarding the nature of their relationship, conflicts of interest, and fees. Cybersecurity also continues to be a hot topic area for the SEC, with 225 open cybersecurity-related investigations. In 2018, we saw the first action charging violations of Regulations S-ID, known as the Identity Theft Red Flags Rule. We anticipate cybersecurity enforcement actions to continue to increase.