Waystone, a third-party management company and governance provider, has created a new global compliance offering after acquiring and merging four compliance service providers.
The new compliance offering, Waystone Compliance Solutions, offers a dedicated compliance solution with a global operation.
Waystone acquired compliance firms Titan Regulation, Argus Global, CCL Compliance, and ISAS, which are based in North America, Singapore, the Middle East, the UK, and Ireland respectively.
Julie Dixon, who was founder and CEO of Titan Regulation, and who now heads Waystone Compliance Solutions, said the new offering was the result of demands from clients for global regulatory services covering multiple jurisdictions.
While Waystone has traditionally offered compliance services to fund managers at the fund level, it is the first time they will be doing so at a corporate level. The merger of the four companies also brings services of the four companies under one umbrella, allowing firms to deal with one service provider, rather than multiple providers.
“One of the big advantages of these mergers is that we can provide all services for one firm, rather than certain services being provided by different individual firms,” Dixon noted.
“We can work with our colleagues in other countries and with other specialties to fully service one client under one umbrella. It’s operationally more efficient,” she added.
At least in the U.S., one of the biggest compliance concerns and areas of focus for firms will be the SEC’s new marketing rule, Dixon said.
“It’s our biggest priority right now,” Dixon noted. “The SEC’s determination of whether you are marketing appropriately is much more subjective. You have more flexibility to do things to market your fund, but it has to be fair and balanced. But what is ‘fair and balanced’? That’s the subjective part.”
The SEC’s updated advertising rule, which opens the door for advisors to use testimonials, endorsements and third-party ratings in advertisements, went into effect May 4, 2021.
Another top concern for clients is insider trading, which the SEC continues to be focused on in examinations.
According to Dixon, “The SEC really wants us to be working with clients on challenges in this area. The Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) really needs to be monitoring meetings with publicly traded companies on a more detailed basis. Does the CCOs have access to the calendars of people who are meeting with publicly traded companies and are they monitoring the trading following these meetings?”
Finally, Dixon expects a great deal of focus on ESG policies, procedures, and disclosures, from firms and regulators.
“ESG sweeps could be a big thing this year. And anything advertising ESG will get a lot of scrutiny, so it’s definitely something we will spend a lot of time on with clients,” Dixon added.
Titan Regulation will continue to provide US compliance consulting services. Argus Global covers Asia Pacific from Singapore, while CCL Compliance will cover the Middle East and the UK. Dublin-based ISAS, has “cyber specialists” and data protection practitioners who work around data governance.