August 31, 2012

Hedge funds could open up after new SEC rule – advertising?

Despite news reports earlier this month that the Securities and Exchange Commission was poised to delay important changes to marketing rules for hedge funds and other alternative investment funds, the S.E.C. published proposed rules yesterday that will have a significant impact on how hedge funds speak to the public and market themselves to prospective investors.

Both public relations professionals and reporters alike have quietly advocated for the loosening of these regulations, which have prevented hedge fund managers from talking publicly about their performance, investment strategies and even mentioning simple facts about their fund structure and fees. Now, if this new proposal becomes the law, more transparency will come to the hedge fund industry.

Dukas Public Relations, which prides itself on transparent and open relationships between its clients and the media, will be submitting a comment letter to the S.E.C. in support of the proposed rule. (Our letter will be available here and via the S.E.C.’s website soon.)

We believe this change will be welcomed by hedge fund reporters in particular, who often find it difficult to obtain simple information from hedge fund managers and the industry in general. Based on our conversations with clients and prospects, managers also support this change because most want to respond to reporters’ questions but fear running afoul of the rules. Even some managers who want to correct simple inaccuracies in the media can’t do so under the current regulations.

While some hedge funds and marketing execs have talked of full-fledged advertising campaigns, we believe most firms will opt to ramp up their public relations initiatives rather than buy ads in print publications or sponsor sp. While not opposed to advertising, we think engaging with the media and the public at large is the best way for the hedge fund industry to become more transparent and better understood. As a PR agency for hedge funds, we look forward to seeing this proposed rule become law.

Zach Kouwe