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The Standard

Members and Candidates must not accept gifts, benefits, compensation, or consideration that competes with or might reasonably be expected to create a conflict of interest with their employer’s interest unless they obtain written consent from all parties involved. 

Test your understanding of Standard IV(B)


Standard IV(B) requires members and candidates to obtain permission from their employer before accepting compensation or other benefits from third parties for the services rendered to the employer or for any services that might create a conflict with their employer’s interest. Compensation and benefits include direct compensation by the client and any indirect compensation or other benefits received from third parties. “Written consent” includes any form of communication that can be documented (for example, communication via email that can be retrieved and documented).

Members and candidates must obtain permission for additional compensation/benefits because such arrangements may affect loyalties and objectivity and create potential conflicts of interest. Disclosure allows an employer to consider the outside arrangements when evaluating the actions and motivations of members and candidates. Moreover, the employer is entitled to have full knowledge of all compensation/benefit arrangements so as to be able to assess the true cost of the services members or candidates are providing.

There may be instances in which a member or candidate is hired by an employer on a part-time or contract basis, allowing the member or candidate to work for multiple firms. During the contracting and hiring process, members and candidates should address and negotiate with their employer the parameters around their ability to provide services to other employers that may be competitive with their employer.

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Compliance Practices

Members and candidates must disclose to their employer, through their supervisor or compliance officer, any compensation they propose to receive for services that is in addition to the compensation or benefits received from their employer, including performance incentives offered by clients. The disclosure should include the terms of any agreement under which a member or candidate will receive additional compensation, including the nature of the compensation, the approximate amount of compensation, and the duration of the agreement. The party offering the additional compensation should acknowledge and confirm the details in the disclosure.

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Application of the Standard

Example 1 (Notification of Client Bonus Compensation)

Whitman, a portfolio analyst for Adams Trust Company (ATC), manages the account of Cochran, a client. Whitman is paid a salary by his employer, and Cochran pays ATC a standard fee based on the market value of assets in her portfolio. Cochran proposes to Whitman that “any year that my portfolio achieves at least a 15% return before taxes, you and your wife can fly to Monaco at my expense and use my condominium during the third week of January.” Whitman does not inform his employer of the arrangement and vacations in Monaco the following January as Cochran’s guest.

Comment: Whitman violated Standard IV(B) by failing to inform his employer in writing of this supplemental, contingent compensation arrangement. The nature of the arrangement could result in partiality to Cochran’s account, which could detract from Whitman’s performance with respect to other accounts he handles for ATC. Whitman must obtain the consent of his employer to accept such a supplemental compensation arrangement.

Example 2 (Notification of Outside Compensation)

Jones, a senior portfolio manager for Clarksville Asset Management, is on the board of directors of Exercise Unlimited, Inc. In return for his services on the board, Jones receives unlimited membership privileges for his family at all Exercise Unlimited facilities. Jones recommends purchasing Exercise Unlimited stock for his Clarksville client accounts for which it is appropriate. Jones does not disclose this arrangement to his employer because he does not receive monetary compensation for his services on the board.

Comment: Jones violated Standard IV(B) by failing to disclose to his employer benefits received in exchange for his services on the board of directors. Jones’ service as a board director creates a conflict of interest because he has a personal incentive for recommending Exercise Unlimited stock. Nonmonetary compensation may create a conflict of interest in the same manner as being paid to serve as a director.

Example 3 (Prior Approval for Outside Compensation)

Hollis is an analyst of oil-and-gas companies for Specialty Investment Management. He is currently recommending the purchase of ABC Oil Company shares and has published a long, well-thought-out research report to substantiate his recommendation. Several weeks after publishing the report, Hollis receives a call from the investor relations office of ABC Oil saying that Andrews, CEO of the company, saw the report and likes the analyst’s grasp of the business and his company. The investor relations officer invites Hollis to visit ABC Oil to discuss the industry further. ABC Oil offers to send a company plane to pick Hollis up and arrange for his accommodations while visiting. Hollis, after gaining the appropriate approvals, accepts the meeting with the CEO but declines the offered travel arrangements. Several weeks later, Andrews and Hollis meet to discuss the oil business and Hollis’s report. Following the meeting, Hollis joins Andrews and the investment relations officer for dinner at an upscale restaurant near ABC Oil’s headquarters. Upon returning to Specialty Investment Management, Hollis provides a full review of the meeting to the director of research, including a disclosure of the dinner attended.

Comment: Hollis’s actions did not violate Standard IV(B). Through gaining approval before accepting the meeting and declining the offered travel arrangements, Hollis sought to avoid any potential conflicts of interest between his company and ABC Oil. By disclosing the dinner upon his return, Hollis enabled Specialty Investment Management to assess whether it has any impact on future reports and recommendations by Hollis related to ABC Oil.

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About the Author(s)

CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow.

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