Ethics Case Study of the Week: When Investment Performance is Derived from a Prior Entity

By Gary Sarkissian posted 11-01-2021 08:00

CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct outline the ethical guidelines for the investment profession that are critical to maintaining the integrity of capital markets and investor trust.  Members, candidates, and even firms make a commitment to uphold these standards as they help elevate ethical decision-making universally around the globe.  

As investment professionals, we face important ethical decisions in our day-to-day activities.  Some scenarios we encounter will be straightforward, while others may be more complex.  No matter the circumstances, continuous learning remains imperative in an evolving investment industry and an adapting regulatory environment. 

For that reason, each week we feature a sample case from CFA Institute’s Ethics in Practice Casebook.  Many cases are built upon real-life examples that may involve a regulatory matter or even a CFA Institute Professional Conduct investigation.  At the end of each case is a multiple-choice question that addresses the ethical nature of the actions taken in that case.  

This week’s case involves Standard III(D) Performance Presentation.

When Investment Performance is Derived from a Prior Entity
Jergens is the portfolio manager for the Volare Investment Management (VIM) fund, a registered
collective investment scheme (CIS) organized under the laws of South Africa. VIM’s 2018 regulatory disclosure and marketing material for the fund, as produced by Jergens, presents annual investment performance data for the 2010-16 period that is accurate and calculated correctly. The performance history is that of a composite of separate accounts that followed the strategy used by the VIM fund prior to the assets being moved over to the CIS environment in 2017. In presenting the fund’s performance history, Jergens’ actions are

 A. appropriate because the investment performance is accurate.
 B. inappropriate because the investment performance is misleading.
 C. appropriate as long as the performance calculations are net of fees.
 D. inappropriate if Jergens was not the manager of the composite of segregated accounts from 2010.

What do you think is the correct choice?  Click the “Analysis” button below to see the analysis for this case, and feel free to discuss in the comments below.  The completion of this case qualifies for 0.25 hour of Standards, Ethics, and Regulation (SER) credit.

This case relates to CFA Institute Standard III(D): Performance Presentation, which states that CFA Institute members must make a reasonable effort to ensure that investment performance information is fair, accurate, and complete. Although the performance information presented by Jergens is calculated correctly and includes technically accurate data, Jergens’ failure to indicate clearly that the performance data applied to a period prior to registration of the VIM fund as a CIS had the potential to mislead investors into believing that the CIS fund had a long track record. To meet the “fair, accurate, and complete” requirement of the standard, Jergens should disclose that the 2010–16 performance history was that of a prior but similar entity and that the VIM fund, as a CIS, has been in existence only since 2017. Performance can be presented either net or gross of fees, as long as there is sufficient disclosure to inform investors about how the performance is calculated and what affect fees may have on the return figures. It is not inappropriate to present performance of a fund, account, or composite of accounts when the managers have changed, as long as the change of investment personnel during the period being presented is disclosed. Choice B is the best answer.

This case is based on an April 2018 Enforcement Action by the South African Financial Sector Conduct Authority.

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© 2019 CFA Institute. All rights reserved. You may copy and distribute this content, without modification and for non-commercial purposes, provided you attribute the content to CFA Institute and retain this copyright notice.  This case was written as a basis for discussion and is not prescriptive of how a business situation or professional conduct matter should or should not be handled or addressed. Certain characters mentioned are fictional to facilitate discussion, and any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.