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News January 31, 2005 Issue

So Many Conferences, So Little Time

Looking for a good way to demonstrate your firm’s commitment to building a culture of compliance? Send yourself (or a colleague) to a compliance conference. Whether you prefer palm trees or skyscrapers, there are plenty of options to choose from this spring:

NSCP Southern Regional Meeting

AMA Conference Center, Atlanta, Georgia

February 28

(Similar regional NSCP meetings are planned for May 2 in New York and June 6 in Chicago, although agendas for those events have not been finalized.)

Let your hair down in an informal, interactive environment. Because NSCP closes most of its sessions to the press, the dialogue is more candid than at other conferences. Or so we’re told.

The cost for the Atlanta meeting is $225 for NSCP members and $300 for non-members, provided payment is received by February 15. After then, the cost jumps to $325 and $475, respectively.

IA Week – ICAA 7th Annual IA Compliance Best Practices Summit

February 28 – March 1

Renaissance Hotel, Washington DC

An excellent choice for lawyers and compliance officers alike, this conference presents issues germane to all SEC-registered advisers in a condensed, two-day format. If you are too busy to spend three or more days at a resort-based conference, this is the conference for you (although if it snows February 28, you’re going to wish you were at a resort). There’s always a strong showing of SEC speakers, as befitting a Washington, DC-based conference. This year, the lineup includes Lori Richards, Robert Plaze, Gene Gohlke, John Walsh, Jennifer Sawin, Jennifer McHugh, and Nancy Morris. The overall quality of in-house and law firm speakers is excellent, and lively audience Q&A keeps things practical. Cost is $1,395 ($1,195 for IA Week subscribers and ICAA members).

Institute for International Research’s Soft Dollar Practices Forum

March 7 – 8

The Westin at Times Square, New York City

Everything you wanted to know about the soft dollar debate, and then some. Depending on your perspective, the conference’s sole focus on soft dollars is either a strength or a weakness. The cost is $1,795. Attendance at the optional three-hour workshop, "Practical Strategies to Address Soft Dollar Concerns of Fiduciaries and Institutional Investors," brings the total to $2,295.

2005 Mutual Funds and Investment Management Conference

Co-sponsored by the Investment Company Institute and the Federal Bar Association

March 13 – 16

Marriott Desert Springs, Palm Desert, California

If you’re in the fund industry, chances are you’re already well aware of the ICI’s annual Palm Desert conference. This well-attended conference features the industry’s heavy hitters (this year’s lineup includes Laurence Cranch, general counsel of Alliance Capital Management L.P., Peter Germain, deputy general counsel of Federated Investors, and Eric Roiter, general counsel of Fidelity Management & Research Company). Compared to other conferences, we’re told that the Palm Desert conference places relatively more emphasis on big picture policy issues and relatively less emphasis on day-to-day compliance nuts and bolts. There’s lots of wining and dining, and, as one lawyer put it, "the golf is good." Cost is $800 for ICI and Federal Bar Association members, $1,175 for non-members.

NRS’s 20th Annual Spring Compliance Conference

April 19 – 22

Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona

Fun, practical, and comprehensive: three adjectives that describe NRS’s fall and spring conferences. The agendas build in lots of networking time, and people easily form dinner groups, giving you a chance to make new contacts within the industry. The conferences also tend to have more of a practical focus than most: You’ll see speakers handing out model forms and in-house compliance officers candidly sharing war stories. Plus, there’s lots of roll-up-your-sleeves-type audience Q&A. NRS conferences are particularly good for dual registrants, since they typically contain an "adviser" track, a "broker-dealer" track, and a "general" track. They’re also a good choice if you are sending more than one person from your firm: if two concurrent sessions look good, you can hit one, your colleague can hit the other. Short seminar presentations by vendors offer a good way to learn about new products and services.

On the down side, NRS’s conferences tend to be a bit of an NRS-fest, with the firm heavily marketing itself throughout the event. But the biggest complaint people have about the NRS conferences is that you’ve got to give up most of your week to fly out and attend. (Of course, since NRS conferences are inevitably held in excellent locations, it’s hard to complain too much.)

SEC speakers at this year’s spring conference include Kevin Goodman (from the SEC’s Pacific Regional Office), Jennifer McHugh, William Meck (from the SEC’s Philadelphia District Office), and John Walsh. The conference also features several NASD speakers.

The cost of the spring conference is $1,295, provided you register by February 21. However, for an additional $300, you can attend the pre-conference workshop, which IM Insight recommends based on the topic (testing compliance programs), format (more interactive than typical conference presentation) and quality of speakers (some of the best on the IA compliance conference circuit).

Other upcoming conferences to consider:

NICSA’s 23rd Annual Conference & Expo

February 20 – 23

Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Miami, Florida

Hedge Fund Best Practices 2005

February 28 – March 1, Union League Club, New York City

SIA Compliance & Legal Division’s Annual Seminar

April 3 – 6, Palm Desert, California

ALI-ABA’s Designing and Implementing an Effective Compliance Program for Mutual Funds, Investment Advisers, and Broker-dealers

June 17, Washington, DC

ALI-ABA’s Investment Company Regulation and Compliance Conference

June 23 – 25, Washington, DC