What is legal and illegal in emailing for hedge funds, asset managers and wealth managers?


"So you SPAM people" - this is what old university friends keep accusing me of. When I start to explain the nuances of the CAN-SPAM legislation and how ProFundCom complies with it, they glaze over. Last week it happened once too many times and I decided to summarise the legislation here. Not only will this prevent me having to bore anyone ever again, but it is vital information if you are a hedge fund, asset manager or wealth manager.

Here are some well-defined simple rules to follow to make sure you are on the right side of the legal fence when it comes to emailing contacts in relation to your funds. They are based around the CAN-SPAM regulations:

  • It is illegal to reveal recipient details on any emails. Create a mailing group that sends a blind carbon copy (bcc) on an individual email to each recipient.
  • When sending email marketing messages, you must not conceal your identity. A simple way to do this is by using your signature in all your emails to detail this information.
  • Under e-commerce regulations, marketing emails must include information about your business, including its full name, contact details and a clear indication of charges/prices if you refer to them. Using a detailed signature (as above) is a simple way to comply with this.
  • There must be a valid address for people to opt out of receiving emails from you. Most email systems give you this ability.
  • You cannot send unsolicited marketing messages by email to individual subscribers unless you have their prior consent. There are exemptions if the address was collected in the course of a sale or if the recipient has expressed an interest in similar items and chose not to opt-out when the address was originally collected. Individual subscribers do not include companies or individuals within companies.
  • E-commerce regulations require you to make all commercial email clearly identifiable as such, either in the header or the text of the email.
  • There needs to be an unsubscribe mechanism for people to 'opt-out' of receiving further email marketing material.
For financial messages there are also archiving issues that need to be complied with. More information is available at the ProFundCom compliance page. Make sure that all your messaging systems comply with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 17a-4, which lays out stringent rules governing the storage of all electronic messages including email and instant messages for its members.
  1. All emails that have been sent out from the system must be in a special write-once table, where it remains locked for the SEC regulatory period of seven years. These transactions must be queried directly via the systems interface to provide immediate regulatory body access.
  2. To comply with the regulation the index can be searched and used to retrieve records, and all activity in the message store is monitored. This data must also be made available to other corporate email archiving applications via XML interfaces.


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