HEDGE FUND ADVISORS NOW MUST FILE WITH FINRA
The SEC designated FINRA as the agency to develop and maintain the registration system for hedge fund advisors. Form PF, as it is known, helps the SEC understand a lot more about leverage, credit providers, investor concentration and fund performance. The regulator will share the information with the federal Financial Stability Oversight Council, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act and now monitors systemic risk.
The new reporting system would be an extension of the current FINRA system used to accept separate Form ADVs, called the Investment Registration Depository system. The $150 fee will be the same. -Chris Kentouris
BLACKROCK LAUNCHES THREE ALTERNATIVE FUNDS
BlackRock launched three mutual funds that invest in alternative investments: Commodity Strategies, Emerging Markets Long/Short and Global Long/Short Credit funds. The rationale behind the launch is to provide individual investors access to strategies that offer non-correlated returns and diversification benefits to minimize volatility and preserve returns. -Lee Barney
MYSTERY NOVELS, SOCIAL SECURITY AND FINANCIAL PLANNING, ALL AT THE LIBRARY
Partnering with libraries to bring financial education to the masses has been a successful route to prospective clients for Darla Main, of Main Advisory in McMurray, Pa. Social Security planning is "a real hot button for the public in general," she says. Many people worry about Social Security but few understand that they can maximize their benefits through a well-thought-out plan.
After educating herself, Main began offering her presentations on Social Security at libraries, which are often looking for content of interest to regular visitors. The libraries usually provide a free room, as well as free promotion of the event through newsletters and flyers. The presentation is not a sales pitch, it's an information session, she says, and she only contacts audience members who give her permission. -Lee Gjertsen
CALIFORNIA THINKS SMALLER IS BETTER WITH $25 MINI-MUNIS
Traditionally, municipal bonds have been sold to investors in units of $1,000 or even $5,000 or $10,000 per bond, a size that deters many smaller investors or leads them to turn to a bond fund. Now California, a state that has often been an innovator in many areas, is doing something about that.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill authorizing the nation's largest issuer of municipal debt to begin issuing and selling mini-bonds in denominations as small as $25.
The goal of the bill is to allow the state's issuers to attract the interest of a much broader range of investors who may not even have thought of buying bonds before. Financial advisors should also benefit by having an expanded bond product line to offer clients who might otherwise never have thought about buying bonds. -Dave Lindorff
MORNINGSTAR PREPS ETF PORTFOLIO SCORECARD FOR ADVISORS, INVESTORS
Financial advisors and clients who may have been curious about exchange-traded fund-managed portfolios but have been deterred by the lack of any objective rating or way to compare the performances of hundreds of these funds will soon have those tools at their disposal. Investment research giant Morningstar announced plans to establish a ranking system and to begin research later this year on ETF-managed portfolios, which are defined as separate account strategies that have more than 50% of a portfolio's assets in ETFs. -D.L.
TOO MANY WORKERS LEAVING 401(K) MATCHING DOLLARS ON THE TABLE
FINRA issued an investor alert urging the roughly 30% of American workers who are not contributing enough to their 401(k) plans to receive a full employer match to step up their contributions in order to meet their eventual retirement needs.
The alert, titled "Why Leave Money on the Table - Make the Most of Your Employer's 401(k) Match," claims that too few workers are taking advantage of a simple benefit that can pay large dividends when investors reach retirement age. One of the most common matches is a dollar-for-dollar match of up to 3% of an employee's salary.
"Even in tough economic times, all employees still need to prepare for their retirement. Taking full advantage of a company's 401(k) match is a no-cost way for workers to boost their retirement savings," Gerri Walsh, FINRA vice president of investor education, said in the alert.-Larry Barrett