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Proposed regulatory changes in 2016 could not prevent a significant upswing in hedge fund performance and near record levels of private equity fundraising. The hedge fund sector, which underperformed in 2015, experienced a marked improvement in performance in 2016. A key trend in the mutual fund space has been the growth of the exchange-traded fund (ETF) over traditional mutual funds, thanks in part to ETFs low fees and the flexibility of immediate sales. 2016 also saw a number of changes to money market funds regulation, requiring many money market funds to move to a floating net asset value share price and allowing temporary freezes on redemptions. The Trump administration, and in particular its calls for widespread deregulation, remains very much a wildcard. Mary Jo White (an alumna of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP) announced her resignation as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) at the end of Obama’s term, with the Trump administration indicating its intention to appoint Jay Clayton (before the nomination, part of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s M&A practice) as her replacement. Among the new administration’s targets is the proposed ‘fiducary rule’ from the Department of Labor, which has at its centre the objective of creating a fiduciary duty between anyone advising on retirement plans and their clients - it is likely that the rule’s scheduled April 2017 start date will be postponed. Many other Obama-era regulations are equally under threat, such as the Volker Rule, which prohibits banks from proprietary trading.

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