Ethics in Practice: Presenting Investment Performance

Category: Ethics

Country or region: Asia Pacific (Overall)

Summary:
Ethics in Practice: Exchange Listing
 
If the headline above sparked your interest, you are one of the thousands of honest, ethical, and well-meaning investment professionals who want to do the right thing when it comes to fulfilling your professional responsibilities. But sometimes the proper course of action is not always straightforward and obvious. To help with those situations, CFA Institute provides guidance through its Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct (Code and Standards) as well as an Ethical Decision-Making Framework. But just as you need to practice to become proficient at playing a musical instrument, public speaking, or playing a sport, practicing assessing and analyzing situations and making ethical decisions develops your ethical decision-making skills. To promote “ethical exercise,” we are excited to introduce Ethics in Practice.
Each week, we will post a short vignette, drawn from real-world circumstances, regulatory cases, and CFA Institute Professional Conduct investigations, along with possible responses/actions (see below). Later in the week, we will post an analysis of the case and you can see how your response compares! Stay tuned!

We then encourage you to assess the case through the lens of the Ethical Decision-Making Framework and the Code and Standards and let us know which of the choices you believe is the right thing to do and why by using the comment field below.

CASE (Week 57)
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.

ANALYSIS
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.


Have an idea for a case for us to feature? Send it to us at ethicscases@cfainstitute.org.


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