By the mid-2000s, the private fund industry was rocking. But as the decade came to a close, the industry experienced a number of hugely impactful events. Collectively, these events justified making legal and compliance the top operational priority for private fund firms.
The 2008-2009 financial crisis crashed down on the industry and saw regulators implement a series of emergency legal requirements, like short selling bans and enhanced reporting. The Madoff scandal led to expanded requirements for custody of client assets and generally greater industry scrutiny. Then came the implementation of Dodd-Frank.
Dodd-Frank settled the debate about registration. Every private fund firm (or at least over a certain minimum AUM size) had to register with the SEC by early 2012, and this time, it included private equity firms. Dodd-Frank also enhanced the SEC’s inspection authority – another concern for existing and newly-registered firms. Finally, the SEC adopted Form PF, which also went live in 2012.
This tempest of regulatory activity – and it wasn’t limited to just the SEC – might be seen as the modern high-water mark for legal and compliance in the private fund space.