SEC Advisory Committee Recommendations on Finders Fees by Laura Anthony, Palm Beach
Posted by Attorney Laura Anthony on August 01, 2017
SEC Advisory Committee Recommendations on Finders Fees by Laura Anthony, Palm Beach- In the last LawCast in this series, I summarized the recent recommendations by the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies related to finder’s fees. Previously, on September 23, 2015, the Advisory Committee made the following four recommendations:
(i) The SEC take steps to clarify the current ambiguity in broker-dealer regulation by determining that persons that receive transaction-based compensation solely for providing names of or introductions to prospective investors are not subject to registration as a broker under the Exchange Act;
(ii) The SEC exempt intermediaries on a federal level that are actively involved in the discussions, negotiations and structuring, and solicitation of prospective investors for private financings as long as such intermediaries are registered on the state level;
(iii) The SEC spearhead a joint effort with the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and FINRA to ensure coordinated state regulation and adoption of measured regulation that is transparent, responsive to the needs of small businesses for capital, proportional to the risks to which investors in such offerings are exposed, and capable of early implementation and ongoing enforcement; and
(iv) The SEC should take immediate steps to begin to address this set of issues incrementally instead of waiting for the development of a comprehensive solution.
At the time of its recommendations in 2015, the Advisory Committee noted that:
• Small businesses account for the creation of two-thirds of all new jobs, and are the incubators of innovation, generating the majority of net new jobs in the last five years and continuing to add more jobs;
• Early-stage capital for these small businesses is raised principally through private offerings that are exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933 and state blue-sky laws;
• More than 95% of private offerings rely on Rule 506 of Regulation D; however, less than 15% of those use a financial intermediary such as a broker-dealer. This is due in part to a lack of interest from registered broker-dealers given the legal costs and risk involved in undertaking a small transaction, ambiguities in the definition of “broker” and the danger of using unregistered finders.
• As documented in the findings of an American Bar Association Business Law Section Task Force in 2005 and endorsed by the SEC Government Business Forum on Small Business Capital Formation: (i) failure to address the regulatory issues surrounding finders and other private placement intermediaries impedes capital formation for smaller companies; (ii) the current broker-dealer registration system and FINRA membership process is a deterrent to meaningful oversight; (iii) appropriate regulation would enhance economic growth and job creation; and (iv) solutions are achievable through SEC leadership and coordination with FINRA and the states.
• The Advisory Committee is of the view that imposing only limited regulatory requirements, including appropriate investor protections and safeguards on private placement intermediaries with limited activities that do not hold customer funds or securities and deal only with accredited investors, would enhance capital formation and promote job creation.