Advisory Contract Approval

One of the most important responsibilities of fund independent directors is to annually review and approve their fund’s advisory contract, including the advisory fees. This is called the 15(c) process, named after the section of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (1940 Act) that requires a majority of a fund’s independent directors to annually approve the fund’s advisory contract at an in-person meeting called for that purpose. Section 15(c) requires the board to “request and evaluate,” and the adviser to furnish, “such information as may reasonably be necessary” for the board “to evaluate the terms” of the advisory contract.

Boards consider a number of factors when reviewing an advisory contract, including those considered by federal courts in “excessive fee” cases. These cases are also known as 36(b) cases, after the section of the 1940 Act that allows the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a shareholder to sue a fund’s adviser for breach of fiduciary duty with respect to the receipt of compensation. The SEC has incorporated these Gartenberg factors—named for the court decision that first articulated them— into a disclosure rule requiring funds to discuss the basis for the board’s approval of the advisory contract. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Gartenberg framework in the landmark Jones v. Harris Associates decision.

FAQs and Resource Centers

Webinars

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Webinar

IDC Webinar: AXA Equitable's Section 36(b) Victory

September 2016
Virtual
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Webinar

IDC Webinar: Core Responsibilities of Fund Directors - Session 3: Investment Performance Oversight

June 2014
Virtual
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Webinar

IDC Webinar: Core Responsibilities of Fund Directors - Session 2: Investment Advisory Contract Appro...

April 2014
Virtual

Third Party Resources

Below are links to additional resources created, published, and maintained by other organizations. They are merely a sample of additional resources for fund directors. IDC does not control, cannot guarantee, and is not responsible for their accuracy, timeliness, or continued availability. These links are provided solely as a service to fund directors and should not be construed as indicating in any way that IDC endorses either the content provided or the third-party providers of any such content.

ICI Mutual: Risk Management Studies

ICI Mutual: Claims Trends Newsletter

ICI Mutual: Trends in Fee Litigation: Actions Brought under Section 36(b) and ERISA (2014) (pdf)

ICI Mutual: Independent Directors Liability (IDL) Insurance: A Guide for Fund Independent Directors and Their Insurance Advisers (2013) (pdf)

ICI Mutual: Mutual Fund D&O/E&O Insurance: A Guide for Insureds (2009) (pdf)

Litigation

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September 4, 2009
#23761

IDC Files Brief in Supreme Court Case; Summary of Additional Briefs (Summary Memo)

September 4, 2009 TO: INVESTMENT COMPANY DIRECTORS No. 21-09 RE: IDC FILES BRIEF IN SUPREME COURT...
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IDC Supreme Court Brief in Jones v. Harris (pdf)

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ICI Files Supreme Court Brief in Jones v. Harris (pdf)