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Third Time's a Charm? SEC & CFTC Finalize Amendments to Form PF
Thursday, February 15, 2024

On February 8, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) jointly adopted amendments to Form PF, the confidential reporting form for certain registered investment advisers to private funds. Form PF's dual purpose is to assist the SEC's and CFTC's regulatory oversight of private fund advisers (who may be both SEC-registered investment advisers and also registered with the CFTC as commodity pool operators or commodity trading advisers) and investor protection efforts, as well as help the Financial Stability Oversight Council monitor systemic risk. In addition, the SEC entered into a memorandum of understanding with the CFTC to facilitate data sharing between the two agencies regarding information submitted on Form PF.

Continued Spotlight on Private Funds

The continued focus on private funds and private fund advisers is a recurring theme. The SEC recently adopted controversial and sweeping new rules governing many activities of private funds and private fund advisers. The SEC's Division of Examinations also continues to highlight private funds in its annual examination priorities. Form PF is similarly no stranger to recent revisions and expansions in its scope. First, in May 2023, the SEC adopted requirements for certain advisers to hedge funds and private equity funds to provide current reporting of key events (within 72 hours). Second, in July 2023, the SEC finalized amendments to Form PF for large liquidity fund advisers to align their reporting requirements with those of money market funds. And last week, this third set of amendments to Form PF, briefly discussed below.

SEC Commissioner Peirce, in dissent:

"Boundless curiosity is wonderful in a small child; it is a less attractive trait in regulatory agencies…. Systemic risk involves the forest — trying to monitor the state of every individual tree at every given moment in time is a distraction and trades off the mistaken belief that we have the capacity to draw meaning from limitless amounts of discrete and often disparate information. Unbridled curiosity seems to be driving this decision rather than demonstrated need.”

Additional Reporting by Large Hedge Fund Advisers on Qualifying Hedge Funds

These amendments will, among other things, expand the reporting requirements for large hedge fund advisers with regard to “qualifying hedge funds” (i.e., hedge funds with a net asset value of at least $500 million). The amendments will require additional disclosures in the following categories: 

  • Investment exposures, borrowing and counterparty exposures, currency exposures, country and industry exposures; 
  • Market factor effects;
  • Central clearing counterparty reporting;
  • Risk metrics;
  • Investment performance by strategy;
  • Portfolio, financing, and investor liquidity; and
  • Turnover.

While the final amendments increase the amount of fund-level information the Commission will receive with regard to individual qualifying hedge funds, at the same time, the Commission has eliminated the aggregate reporting requirements in Section 2a of Form PF (noting, in its view, that such aggregate information can be misleading).

Enhanced Reporting by All Hedge Funds

The amendments will require more detailed reporting on Form PF regarding:

  • Hedge fund investment strategies (while digital assets are now an available strategy to select from, the SEC opted not to adopt its proposed definition of digital assets, instead noting that if a strategy can be classified as both a digital asset strategy and another strategy, the adviser should report the strategy as the non-digital asset strategy);
  • Counterparty exposures (including borrowing and financing arrangements); and
  • Trading and clearing mechanisms.

Other Amendments That Apply to All Form PF Filers

  • General Instructions. Form PF filers will be required to report separately each component fund of a master-feeder arrangement and parallel fund structure (rather than in the aggregate as permitted under the existing Form PF), other than a disregarded feeder fund (e.g., where a feeder fund invests all its assets in a single master fund, US treasury bills, and/or “cash and cash equivalents”). In addition, the amendments revise how filers will report private fund investments in other private funds, “trading vehicles” (a newly defined term), and other funds that are not private funds. For example, Form PF will now require an adviser to include the value of a reporting fund's investments in other private funds when responding to questions on Form PF, including determining filing obligations and reporting thresholds (unless otherwise directed by the Form).
  • All Private Funds. Form PF filers reporting information about their private funds will report additional and/or new information regarding, for example: type of private fund; identifying information about master-feeder arrangements, internal and external private funds, and parallel fund structures; withdrawal/redemption rights; reporting of gross and net asset values; inflows/outflows; base currency; borrowings and types of creditors; fair value hierarchy; beneficial ownership; and fund performance.

Final Thoughts

With the recent and significant regulatory spotlight on investment advisers to private funds and private funds themselves, we encourage advisers to consider the interrelationships between new data reporting requirements on Form PF and the myriad of new regulations and disclosure obligations being imposed on investment advisers more generally (including private fund advisers). 

The effective date and compliance date for new final amendments to Form PF is 12 months following the date of publication in the Federal Register.

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