SEC’s ESG Proposal Includes Proposed Reporting Requirement for All Index Funds—Whether ESG-Focused or Not
Included within the SEC’s 362-page proposing release— issued on May 25, 2022 and seeking to implement standardized ESG-related disclosures for funds and advisers—is a proposed reporting amendment that would apply to all index funds, regardless of whether or not the fund tracks an ESG-related index. Specifically, the SEC is proposing amendments to Form N-CEN that would require index funds to report certain identifying information about the indexes they track.
Form N-CEN currently requires any fund that tracks the performance of an index to identify itself as an index fund and provide certain information about the index. The SEC’s proposal would require all index funds to report the name and legal entity identifier (LEI), if any, or provide and describe any other identifying number of the indexes the funds track.
The SEC’s proposing release suggests that the amendment would enable the SEC, investors and other market participants to more efficiently identify the use of particular indexes across the fund industry. Specifically, the SEC believes that an LEI—a unique and unchanging number—would provide more accurate identification of an index than its name alone since different sources may use different variations on an index’s name.
Comments on the proposal will be due 60 days after publication of the proposing release in the Federal Register. The SEC’s proposing release is available here.