Upon Written Request Copies Available From: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, Washington, DC 20549-0213.
Rule 3a-4, OMB Control No. 3235-0459, SEC File No. 270-401.
Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 350l-3520), the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) is soliciting comments on the collection of information summarized below. The Commission plans to submit this existing collection of information to the Office of Management and Budget for extension and approval.
Rule 3a-4 (17 CFR 270.3a-4) under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a) (“Investment Company Act” or “Act”) provides a nonexclusive safe harbor from the definition of investment company under the Act for certain investment advisory programs. These programs, which include “wrap fee” and “mutual fund wrap” programs, generally are designed to provide professional portfolio management services to clients who are investing less than the minimum usually required by portfolio managers but more than the minimum account size of most mutual funds. Under wrap fee and similar programs, a client's account is typically managed on a discretionary basis according to pre-selected investment objectives. Clients with similar investment objectives often receive the same investment advice and may hold the same or substantially similar securities in their accounts. Some of these investment advisory programs may meet the definition of investment company under the Act because of the similarity of account management.
In 1997, the Commission adopted rule 3a-4, which clarifies that programs organized and operated in a manner consistent with the conditions of rule 3a-4 are not required to register under the Investment Company Act or comply with the Act's requirements.
These programs differ from investment companies because, among other things, they provide individualized investment advice to the client. The rule's provisions have the effect of ensuring that clients in a program relying on the rule receive advice tailored to the client's needs.
Rule 3a-4 provides that each client's account must be managed on the basis of the client's financial situation and investment objectives and consistent with any reasonable restrictions the client imposes on managing the account. When an account is opened, the sponsor 
(or its designee) must obtain information from each client regarding the client's financial situation and investment objectives, and must allow the client an opportunity to impose reasonable restrictions on managing the account.
In addition, the sponsor (or its designee) must contact the client annually to determine whether the client's financial situation or investment objectives have changed and whether the client wishes to impose any reasonable restrictions on the management of the account or reasonably modify existing restrictions. The sponsor (or its designee) must also notify the client quarterly, in writing, to contact the sponsor (or its designee) regarding changes to the client's financial situation, investment objectives, or restrictions on the account's management.
The program must provide each client with a quarterly statement describing all activity in the client's account during the previous quarter. The sponsor and personnel of the client's account manager who know about the client's account and its management must be reasonably available to consult with the client. Each client also must retain certain indicia of ownership of all securities and funds in the account.
The requirement that the sponsor (or its designee) obtain information about each new client's financial situation and investment objectives when their account is opened is designed to ensure that the investment adviser has sufficient information regarding the client's unique needs and goals to enable the portfolio manager to provide individualized investment advice. The sponsor is required to contact clients annually and provide them with quarterly notices to ensure that the sponsor has current information about the client's financial status, investment objectives, and restrictions on management of the account. Maintaining current information enables the portfolio manager to evaluate each client's portfolio in light of the client's changing needs and circumstances. The requirement that clients be provided with quarterly statements of account activity is designed to ensure each client receives an individualized report, which the Commission believes is a key element of individualized advisory services.
The Commission staff estimates that 11,291,005 clients participate each year in investment advisory programs relying on rule 3a-4. Of that number, the staff estimates that 903,280 are new clients and 10,387,725 are continuing clients. The staff estimates that each year investment advisory program sponsors staff engage in 1.3 hours per new client and 1 hour per continuing client to prepare, conduct and/or review interviews regarding the client's financial situation and investment objectives as required by the rule. Furthermore, the staff estimates that each year investment advisory program staff spends 1 hour per client to prepare and mail quarterly client account statements, including notices to update information. Based on the estimates above, the Commission estimates that the total annual burden of the rule's paperwork requirements is 22,852,994 hours.
The total annual hour burden of 22,852,994 hours represents an increase of 17,245,466 hours from the prior estimate of 5,607,528 hours. This increase principally results from an increase in the estimated number of clients, which was due to a change in the way Commission staff made its estimates. The change in annual burden hours also reflects changes in the estimated burden hours associated with several of the collections of information required under the rule (certain burden estimates increased and certain burden estimates decreased). These changes in estimated burden hours per collection of information result from changes in burden hours reported by representatives of investment advisers that rely on rule 3a-4 that Commission staff surveyed.
The estimate of average burden hours is made solely for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The estimate is not derived from a comprehensive or even a representative survey or study of the costs of Commission rules and forms. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid control number.
Written comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information has practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's estimate of the burdens of the collections of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burdens of the collections of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted in writing within 60 days of this publication.
Please direct your written comments to Thomas Bayer, Director/Chief Information Officer, Securities and Exchange Commission, c/o Remi Pavlik-Simon, 6432 General Green Way, Alexandria, VA 22312; or send an email to: PRA_Mailbox@sec.gov.
Dated: September 19, 2012.
Kevin M. O'Neill,
[FR Doc. 2012-23538 Filed 9-24-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8011-01-P