Columbia Law School Professor Robert Jackson filed a FOIA request with the SEC last year, seeking data on investment advisors for a project on predicting broker fraud based on past behavior, only to be told the agency didn’t have the information.
Then Jackson saw this academic article on using Form ADV data to predict investment-manager fraud – citing five years of Form ADV data provided by the SEC. “These data are not publicly accessible and, to our knowledge, no other researchers have examined them ,” the authors wrote. One of the authors, Stephen Dimmock of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, worked on another paper on investment-firm ownership published this year, using ADV data that he got from an SEC economist. “There’s only two papers in the history of the academy using Form ADV,” Jackson said. “One by her friends, and one by her. So if you don’t have the data, where’d your economist get it?” This is important because such data would help investors to better assess investment managers.
The SEC rejected 63% of FOIA requests because it said it didn’t have the data or documents.