Investment Advisers Act of 1940 – Section 206(3)
In your letter dated April 14, 2016, you request assurance that the staff of the Division of Investment Management would not recommend enforcement action to the Securities and Exchange Commission under Section 206(3) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”) if the Advisers (as defined below) and their affiliates that are registered with the Commission as broker-dealers (“broker-dealer affiliates”) purchase fractional shares from certain advisory client accounts in the manner described in your letter.
You state that J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and certain of its affiliates are registered with the Commission as investment advisers (collectively, the “Advisers”) and that the Advisers exercise investment discretion over various client accounts through which client assets are invested in securities. You state that advisory clients who hold exchange-traded equity securities in their accounts may sometimes receive interests that represent the right to receive the value of a fraction of a share (“fractional shares”). You state further that such fractional shares are not issued by the issuer but rather are account entries meant to represent the portion of a whole share (held by a broker or another party) that an accountholder would be entitled to (including ongoing appreciation and depreciation) if fractional shares could be traded in the marketplace.
You propose that, if an Adviser determines to sell out of a client position consisting of whole shares and fractional shares, the Adviser or a broker-dealer affiliate would purchase the fractional shares from the client on the same day and at the same price as the whole shares are sold. Alternatively, if the whole shares are transferred out of the client’s account as a result of an event other than a sale, the Adviser or its broker-dealer affiliate would purchase the fractional shares from the client at that day’s market closing price. You state that, because fractional shares cannot be sold in the open market, there are limited, if any, alternatives to your proposed approach.
Section 206(3) of the Advisers Act makes it unlawful for any investment adviser, directly or indirectly:
acting as principal for his own account, knowingly to sell any security to or purchase any security from a client... without disclosing to such client in writing before the completion of such transaction the capacity in which he is acting and obtaining the consent of the client to such transaction.
If the Adviser to a client, or another Adviser or broker-dealer affiliate that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with that Adviser, purchases a fractional share as described above, such purchase could be considered to violate Section 206(3) unless the Adviser complies with that Section’s disclosure and consent requirements. 
Section 206(3) is intended to address the potential for self-dealing that can arise when an investment adviser acts as principal in a transaction with a client, such as through price manipulation. In adopting Section 206(3), Congress chose not to prohibit advisers from engaging in principal transactions entirely but rather to impose disclosure and consent requirements. You state that the purchase of fractional shares as described in your letter does not present the price manipulation risk that Section 206(3) was designed to address because such purchases would be made at the market price for the corresponding whole shares. For this reason, you conclude that complying with the disclosure and consent requirements of Section 206(3) for these purchases would place a disproportionate burden on the Advisers and their clients.
Based on the facts presented, we would not recommend enforcement action to the Commission under Section 206(3) of the Advisers Act if the Advisers and their broker-dealer affiliates purchase fractional shares from clients in the manner described in your letter. In particular, our position is based on your representations that:
Any different facts or representations may require a different conclusion. This response expresses our position on enforcement action only and does not represent any legal conclusion on the issue presented.
David J. Marcinkus
 With respect to fractional shares of investment companies, relief is requested only with respect to (i) open-end companies registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Act”) that operate as exchange-traded funds and are not advised by an Adviser and (ii) closed-end companies that are either registered under the Act or have elected to be treated as business development companies under the Act and are not advised by an Adviser. Relief is not requested with respect to fractional shares of any other investment company.
 You explain that fractional shares may occur as result of several types of events, including the transfer of an account from another investment adviser to an Adviser, or the division of an account into multiple accounts.
 You state that a transfer other than a sale may occur as a result of, for example, the closing of the account and transfer of the shares to a brokerage account or the separation of an account into two accounts due to divorce. For a discussion of what constitutes a sale within the meaning of Section 206(3), see Goldman Sachs & Company, SEC Staff No-Action Letter (pub. avail. Feb. 22, 1999).
 See In re Gintel Asset Mgmt., Investment Advisers Act Release No. 2079 (Nov. 8, 2002); In re Credit Suisse Asset Mgmt., Inc., Investment Advisers Act Release No. 1452 (Nov. 16, 1994); In re Concord Investment Co., Investment Advisers Act Release No. 1585 (Sept. 27, 1996); and Interplan Securities Corp., SEC Staff No-Action Letter (pub. avail. Feb. 23, 1978). See also Interpretation of Section 206(3) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, Investment Advisers Act Release No. 1732 (July 17, 1998) at n. 3 (Section 206(3) applies to certain principal or agency transactions engaged in, or effected by, a broker-dealer that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with, an investment adviser).
 See Investment Trusts and Investment Companies: Hearings on S. 3580 Before the Subcomm. of the Comm. on Banking and Currency, 76th Cong., 3d Sess. 320-22 (1940). Section 206(3) is also intended to address the potential for the dumping of unwanted securities into a client's account. Id. Your proposal does not raise dumping concerns because clients would not be purchasing securities from the Advisers or their broker-dealer affiliates.
 You also observe that rules 152a and 236 under the Securities Act of 1933, which address registration under that Act for certain offerings related to fractional interests, reflect the Commission’s recognition that fractional shares warrant different treatment from whole shares under the federal securities laws.
 We note, however, that these transactions would be subject to the general antifraud provisions of Sections 206(1) and (2) of the Advisers Act.
 We note that fractional shares are not necessarily immaterial in value. For example, some individual securities trade with market prices in the thousands of dollars, and fractional interests in such securities may have substantial value. Our position, as described herein, would not extend to the purchase of fractional shares that have material value to the applicable client or, in the aggregate, to the Adviser or the broker-dealer affiliate purchasing the fractional shares.