SEC Finalizes Rule to Modernize Shareholder Reports and Disclosures

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released a final rule to amend requirements for shareholder reports for mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and rules for investment company advertisements. The SEC has identified in its press release several highlights of the final rule.

Shareholder Reports Tailored to the Needs of Retail Shareholders

The Commission’s final rule amendments will require mutual funds and ETFs that are registered on Form N-1A (“open-end funds” or “funds”) to transmit to shareholders concise and visually engaging annual and semi-annual reports that highlight information that is particularly important for retail shareholders. The final rule amendments also facilitate funds’ ability to make electronic versions of their shareholder reports more user-friendly and interactive.

Availability of Additional Information on Form N-CSR and Online

The new rules will require that funds make available online certain information that may be more relevant to investors and financial professionals who desire more in-depth information. This information also must be delivered free of charge upon request and filed on a semiannual basis on Form N-CSR. This information includes, for example, a fund’s schedule of investments and other financial statement elements.

Amendments to the Scope of Rule 30e-3 to Exclude Open-End Funds

The SEC adopted amendments to exclude open-end funds from the scope of rule 30e-3, which generally permits certain registered investment companies to satisfy shareholder report transmission requirements by making these reports and other materials available online and providing a notice of the reports’ online availability, instead of directly providing the reports to shareholders.

Fee and Expense Information in Investment Company Advertisements

The final rule amendments require that presentations of investment company fees and expenses in advertisements and sales literature by registered investment companies and business development companies be consistent with relevant prospectus fee table presentations and be reasonably current. The rule amendments also address representations of fees and expenses that could be materially misleading.

The final rule amendments will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The SEC is providing an 18-month transition period after the effective date of the final rule amendments to allow open-end funds adequate time to adjust their shareholder reports and comply with the rule 30e-3 changes. The SEC is also providing an 18-month transition period after the effective date to comply with the final rule amendments to the advertising rules. The final rule amendments that address representations of fees and expenses that could be materially misleading apply on the effective date.