examination priorities

2023’s excitement for generative artificial intelligence (AI) prompted the SEC to respond on multiple fronts – stump speeches, rulemaking, new exam priorities and sweeps and previewing potential enforcement actions. SEC Chair Gary Gensler raised concerns regarding potential conflicts and investor harm resulting from the proliferation of AI and warned that an AI-caused financial crisis is nearly unavoidable absent regulation. The SEC adopted a number of initiatives in 2023 to respond to these perceived risks. 

Go to any private equity event in the last 12 months, and “energy transition” will have been discussed, meaning the shift in energy production away from fossil‑based systems to low or zero carbon ones. As fund managers continue to raise funds focused on investments in this sector, we see no reason for this trend to change in 2023.

The ever-increasing web of ESG regulation is of course highly relevant for such funds and their investments, but the sector-relevant risks are much wider. There are four risks of which fund managers need to be aware.

On March 30, 2022, the Division of Examinations of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced its examination priorities for fiscal year 2022. The annual publication of the Division’s examination priorities is intended to align with the Division’s four pillars of promoting and improving compliance, preventing fraud, monitoring

On March 3, 2021, the SEC’s Division of Examinations announced its examination priorities for 2021. Compared to last year, this year’s edition contains an expanded section specifically addressed to private funds. For private fund managers, the exam staff states that it will target a list of issues, including:

  • Preferential treatment