Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 19, 2008 SEC Open Meeting

On Wednesday, November 19, the SEC will hold an open meeting in the Auditorium at SEC Headquarters.  The meeting is scheduled to start at 10:00AM, and will cover two items:

Item 1: The Commission will consider whether to adopt rule amendments that would impose additional requirements on nationally recognized statistical rating organizations in order to address concerns about the integrity of their credit rating procedures and methodologies.  Proposing release:  http://sec.gov/rules/proposed/2008/33-8940fr.pdf

Item 2: The Commission will consider whether to adopt rule amendments to improve mutual fund disclosure by providing investors with a summary prospectus containing key information in plain English in a clear and concise format, and by enhancing the availability on the Internet of more detailed information to investors. The Commission also will consider whether to adopt related amendments to Form N 1A, including amendments that address exchange-traded funds.  Proposing release:  http://sec.gov/rules/proposed/2008/33-8949fr.pdf
Item 2 represents an important development in the Commission's efforts to simplify and streamline mutual fund disclosure.  This latest prospectus reform proposes a mutual fund summary prospectus, which is a brief, plain language synopsis of key information about a fund's investment objectives and strategies, costs, and risks, with more detailed information available both in paper and in a user-friendly online format. The proposed summary prospectus would enable mutual fund investors, intermediaries, analysts and others to access and use the information they need and want quickly, and allow for easier comparison between funds.

Under this proposal, investors would be provided or given access to the summary prospectus, with the full prospectus and statement of additional information (SAI) available on line or in paper upon request for those who seek more comprehensive information. Investors and analysts accessing the more detailed disclosure documents on-line could use interactive hyperlinks to navigate easily through the full texts of the documents. It should be noted that the content of the full prospectus and SAI is unchanged by this proposal, as is liability for the content of a fund's full prospectus and registration statement.

Adoption of this leaner prospectus document, coupled with electronic delivery, potentially could save funds significant sums in printing and postage costs.  As we mentioned in our comment letter on the proposal, the Forum looks forward to these cost savings being past through to shareholders. 

Wednesday's Open Meeting will be webcast via a link on the Commission's website at:  http://www.sec.gov.  An archive of the Open Meeting will be available soon thereafter.