Serving member bank and investment advisor with mutual fund affiliation.
(a) The opinion of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System has been requested with respect to service as vice president of a corporation engaged in supplying investment advice and management services to mutual funds and others (“Manager”) and as director of a member bank.
(b) Section 32 of the Banking Act of 1933 (12 U.S.C. 78 ), forbids any officer, director, or employee of any corporation “primarily engaged in the issue, flotation, underwriting, public sale, or distribution, at wholesale or retail, or through syndicate participation, of stocks, bonds, or other similar securities * * *” to serve at the same time as an officer, director, or employee of a member bank.
(c) Manager has for several years served a number of different open-end or mutual funds, as well as individuals, institutions, and other clients, as an investment advisor and manager. However, it appears that Manager has a close relationship with two of the mutual funds which it serves. A wholly owned subsidiary of Manager (“Distributors”), serves as distributor for the two mutual funds and has no other function. In addition, the chairman and treasurer of Manager, as well as the president, assistant treasurer, and a director of Manager, are officers and directors of Distributors and trustees of both funds. It appears also that a director of Manager is president and director of Distributors, while the clerk of Manager is also clerk of Distributors. Manager, Distributors and both funds are listed at the same address in the local telephone directory.
(d) While the greater part of the total annual income of Manager during the past five years has derived from “individuals, institutions, and other clients”, it appears that a substantial portion has been attributable to the involvement with the two funds in question. During each of the last four years, that portion has exceeded a third of the total income of Manager, and in 1962 it reached nearly 40 percent.
(e) The Board has consistently held that an open-end or mutual fund is engaged in the activities described in section 32, so long as it is issuing its securities for sale, since it is apparent that the more or less continued process of redemption of the stock issued by such a company would restrict and contract its activities if it did not continue to issue the stock. Clearly, a corporation that is engaged in underwriting or selling open-end shares, is so engaged.
(f) In connection with incorporated manager-advisors to open-end or mutual funds, the Board has expressed the view in a number of cases that where the corporation served a number of different clients, and the corporate structure was not interlocked with that of mutual fund and underwriter in such a way that it could be regarded as being controlled by or substantially one with them, it should not be held to be “primarily engaged” in section 32 activities. On the other hand, where a manager-advisor was created for the sole purpose of serving a particular fund, and its activities were limited to that function, the Board has regarded the group as a single entity for purposes of section 32.
(g) In the present case, the selling organization is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the advisor-manager, hence subject to the parent's control. Stock of the subsidiary will be voted according to decisions by the parent's board of directors, and presumably will be voted for a board of directors of the subsidiary which is responsive to policy lines laid down by the parent. Financial interests of the parent are obviously best served by an aggressive selling policy, and, in fact, both the share and the absolute amount of the parent's income provided by the two funds have shown a steady increase over recent years. The fact that dividends from Distributors have represented a relatively small proportion of the income of Manager, and that there were, indeed, no dividends in 1961 or 1962, does not support a contrary argument, in view of the steady increase in total income of Manager from the funds and Distributors taken as a whole.
(h) In view of all these facts, the Board has concluded that the separate corporate entities of Manager and Distributors should be disregarded and Distributors viewed as essentially a selling arm of Manager. As a result of this conclusion, section 32 would forbid interlocking service as an officer of Manager and a director of a member bank.