HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund
Class A Shares HCMNX
Class A1 Shares HCMWX
Class I Shares HCMQX
Investor Class Shares HCMPX
HCM Tactical Growth Fund
Class A Shares HCMGX
Class I Shares HCMIX
Investor Class Shares HCMDX
HCM Income Plus Fund
Class A Shares HCMEX
Class I Shares HCMLX
Investor Class Shares HCMKX
each a series of Northern Lights Fund Trust III
STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
November 1, 2022
This Statement of Additional Information ("SAI") is not a Prospectus and should be read in conjunction with the Prospectus of the HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund, HCM Tactical Growth Fund and HCM Income Plus Fund (each one the "Fund", collectively, the “Funds”) dated November 1, 2022, which is incorporated by reference into this SAI (i.e., legally made a part of this SAI). Copies may be obtained without charge by contacting the Funds’ Transfer Agent, Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC, 225 Pictoria Drive, Suite 450, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246 or by calling 1-855-969-8464. You may also obtain a prospectus by visiting the Funds’ website at www.howardcmfunds.com.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|INVESTMENTS AND RISKS||2|
|ALLOCATION OF BROKERAGE||31|
|POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR DISCLOSURE OF PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS||33|
|OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS||34|
|INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM||37|
|DESCRIPTION OF SHARES||40|
|CODE OF ETHICS||40|
|PROXY VOTING POLICIES||41|
|PURCHASE, REDEMPTION AND PRICING OF FUND SHARES||41|
|ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING PROGRAM||51|
|CONTROL PERSONS AND PRINCIPAL HOLDERS OF SECURITIES||52|
|APPENDIX A – BOND RATINGS||60|
|APPENDIX B – PROXY VOTING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES||62|
The Funds are each a diversified series of Northern Lights Fund Trust III, a Delaware statutory trust organized on December 5, 2011 (the "Trust"). The Trust is registered as an open-end management investment company. The Trust is governed by its Board of Trustees (the "Board").
The Funds may issue an unlimited number of shares of beneficial interest. All shares of each Fund have equal rights and privileges. Each share of each Fund is entitled to one vote on all matters as to which shares are entitled to vote. In addition, each share of each Fund is entitled to participate equally with other shares, on a class-specific basis, (i) in dividends and distributions declared by the Funds and (ii) on liquidation to its proportionate share of the assets remaining after satisfaction of outstanding liabilities. Shares of the Funds are fully paid, non-assessable and fully transferable and have no pre-emptive, conversion or exchange rights. Fractional shares have proportionately the same rights, including voting rights, as are provided for a full share.
Howard Capital Management, Inc. (the "Adviser") is the Funds’ investment adviser. The Funds’ investment objectives, restrictions and policies are more fully described here and in the Prospectus. The Board may start other series and offer shares of a new fund under the Trust at any time.
The HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund offers five classes of shares: Class A shares, Class A1 shares, Class I shares, Investor Class shares and Class R shares. Class R shares are not currently available for sale. The HCM Tactical Growth Fund offers four classes of shares: Class A shares, Investor Class shares, Class I shares and Class R shares. Class R shares are not currently available for sale. Investor Class shares were formerly known as Class C shares. The HCM Income Plus Fund offers three classes of shares: Class A shares, Class I shares, and Investor Class shares. Each share class represents an interest in the same assets of each Fund, has the same rights and is identical in all material respects except that (i) each class of shares may be subject to different (or no) sales loads; (ii) each class of shares may bear different (or no) distribution fees; (iii) each class of shares may have different shareholder features, such as minimum investment amounts; (iv) certain other class-specific expenses will be borne solely by the class to which such expenses are attributable, including transfer agent fees attributable to a specific class of shares, printing and postage expenses related to preparing and distributing materials to current shareholders of a specific class, registration fees paid by a specific class of shares, the expenses of administrative personnel and services required to support the shareholders of a specific class, litigation or other legal expenses relating to a class of shares, Board fees or expenses paid as a result of issues relating to a specific class of shares and accounting fees and expenses relating to a specific class of shares and (v) each class has exclusive voting rights with respect to matters relating to its own distribution arrangements. The Board may classify and reclassify the shares of each Fund into additional classes of shares at a future date.
Under the Trust's Agreement and Declaration of Trust, each Trustee will continue in office until the termination of the Trust or his/her earlier death, incapacity, resignation or removal. Shareholders can remove a Trustee to the extent provided by the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the "1940 Act") and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. Vacancies may be filled by a majority of the remaining Trustees, except insofar as the 1940 Act may require the election by shareholders. As a result, no annual or regular meetings of shareholders will be held unless matters arise requiring a vote of shareholders under the Agreement and Declaration of Trust or the 1940 Act.
INVESTMENTS AND RISKS
The investment objectives of the Funds and the descriptions of the Funds' principal investment strategies are set forth under "Investment Objective”, “Principal Investment Strategies”, and “Principal Investment Risks” in the Prospectus. Each Fund’s investment objective is not fundamental and may be changed without the approval of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Trust.
The following pages contain more detailed information about the types of instruments in which the Funds may invest, directly or indirectly, strategies the Adviser may employ in pursuit of the Funds' investment objective and a summary of related risks.
Equity securities in which the Funds invest include common stocks, preferred stocks and securities convertible into common stocks, such as convertible bonds, warrants, rights and options. The value of equity securities varies in response to many factors, including the activities and financial condition of individual companies, the business market in which individual companies compete and general market and economic conditions. Equity securities fluctuate in value, often based on factors unrelated to the value of the issuer of the securities, and such fluctuations can be significant.
Common stock represents an equity (ownership) interest in a company, and usually possesses voting rights and earns dividends. Dividends on common stock are not fixed but are declared at the discretion of the issuer. Common stock generally represents the riskiest investment in a company. In addition, common stock generally has the greatest appreciation and depreciation potential because increases and decreases in earnings are usually reflected in a company's stock price.
The Funds may invest in preferred stock with no minimum credit rating. Preferred stock is a class of stock having a preference over common stock as to the payment of dividends and the recovery of investment should a company be liquidated, although preferred stock is usually junior to the debt securities of the issuer. Preferred stock typically does not possess voting rights and its market value may change based on changes in interest rates.
The fundamental risk of investing in common and preferred stock is the risk that the value of the stock might decrease. Stock values fluctuate in response to the activities of an individual company or in response to general market and/or economic conditions. Historically, common stocks have provided greater long-term returns and have entailed greater short-term risks than preferred stocks, fixed-income securities and money market investments. The market value of all securities, including common and preferred stocks, is based upon the market's perception of value and not necessarily the book value of an issuer or other objective measures of a company's worth.
Fixed Income/Debt/Bond Securities
Yields on fixed income securities are dependent on a variety of factors, including the general conditions of the money market and other fixed income securities markets, the size of a particular offering, the maturity of the obligation and the rating of the issue. An investment in the Funds will be subjected to risk even if all fixed income securities in the Funds' portfolios are paid in full at maturity. All fixed income securities, including U.S. government securities, can change in value when there is a
change in interest rates or the issuer's actual or perceived creditworthiness or ability to meet its obligations.
There is normally an inverse relationship between the market value of securities sensitive to prevailing interest rates and actual changes in interest rates. In other words, an increase in interest rates produces a decrease in market value. The longer the remaining maturity (and duration) of a security, the greater will be the effect of interest rate changes on the market value of that security. Changes in the ability of an issuer to make payments of interest and principal and in the market’s perception of an issuer's creditworthiness will also affect the market value of the debt securities of that issuer. Obligations of issuers of fixed income securities (including municipal securities) are subject to the provisions of bankruptcy, insolvency, and other laws affecting the rights and remedies of creditors, such as the Federal Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978. In addition, the obligations of municipal issuers may become subject to laws enacted in the future by Congress, state legislatures, or referenda extending the time for payment of principal and/or interest, or imposing other constraints upon enforcement of such obligations or upon the ability of municipalities to levy taxes. Changes in the ability of an issuer to make payments of interest and principal and in the market's perception of an issuer's creditworthiness will also affect the market value of the debt securities of that issuer. The possibility exists, therefore, that, the ability of any issuer to pay, when due, the principal of and interest on its debt securities may become impaired.
The corporate debt securities in which the Funds may invest include corporate bonds and notes and short-term investments such as commercial paper and variable rate demand notes. Commercial paper (short-term promissory notes) is issued by companies to finance their or their affiliate's current obligations and is frequently unsecured. Variable and floating rate demand notes are unsecured obligations typically redeemable upon not more than 30 days' notice. These obligations include master demand notes that permit investment of fluctuating amounts at varying rates of interest pursuant to a direct arrangement with the issuer of the instrument. The issuer of these obligations often has the right, after a given period, to prepay the outstanding principal amount of the obligations upon a specified number of days' notice. These obligations generally are not traded, nor generally is there an established secondary market for these obligations. To the extent a demand note does not have a 7-day or shorter demand feature and there is no readily available market for the obligation, it is treated as an illiquid security.
The Funds may invest in sovereign bonds. Sovereign bonds involve special risks not present in corporate bonds. The governmental authority that controls the repayment of the bonds may be unable or unwilling to make interest payments and/or repay the principal on its bonds. If an issuer of sovereign bonds defaults on payments of principal and/or interest, the Funds may have limited recourse against the issuer. In the past, certain governments of emerging market countries have declared themselves unable to meet their financial obligations on a timely basis, which has resulted in losses to holders of such government’s debt.
A sovereign debtor’s willingness or ability to repay principal and pay interest in a timely manner may be affected by, among other factors, its cash flow situation, the extent of its foreign currency reserves, the availability of sufficient foreign exchange, the relative size of the debt service burden, the sovereign debtor’s policy toward principal international lenders and local political constraints. Sovereign debtors may also be dependent on expected disbursements from foreign governments, multilateral agencies and other entities to reduce principal and interest arrearages on their debt. The failure of a sovereign debtor to implement economic reforms, achieve specified levels of economic performance or repay principal or interest when due may result in the cancellation of third-party
commitments to lend funds to the sovereign debtor, which may further impair such debtor’s ability or willingness to service its debts.
The Funds may invest in debt securities, including non-investment grade debt securities. The following describes some of the risks associated with fixed income debt securities:
Interest Rate Risk. Debt securities have varying levels of sensitivity to changes in interest rates. In general, the price of a debt security can fall when interest rates rise and can rise when interest rates fall. Securities with longer maturities and mortgage securities can be more sensitive to interest rate changes although they usually offer higher yields to compensate investors for the greater risks. The longer the maturity of the security, the greater the impact a change in interest rates could have on the security's price. In addition, short-term and long-term interest rates do not necessarily move in the same amount or the same direction. Short-term securities tend to react to changes in short-term interest rates and long-term securities tend to react to changes in long-term interest rates.
Credit Risk. Fixed income securities have speculative characteristics and changes in economic conditions or other circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity of those issuers to make principal or interest payments, as compared to issuers of more highly rated securities.
Extension Risk. The Funds are subject to the risk that an issuer will exercise its right to pay principal on an obligation held by the Funds (such as mortgage-backed securities) later than expected. This may happen when there is a rise in interest rates. These events may lengthen the duration (i.e., interest rate sensitivity) and potentially reduce the value of these securities.
Prepayment Risk. Certain types of debt securities, such as mortgage-backed securities, have yield and maturity characteristics corresponding to underlying assets. Unlike traditional debt securities, which may pay a fixed rate of interest until maturity when the entire principal amount comes due, payments on certain mortgage-backed securities may include both interest and a partial payment of principal. Besides the scheduled repayment of principal, payments of principal may result from the voluntary prepayment, refinancing, or foreclosure of the underlying mortgage loans.
Securities subject to prepayment are less effective than other types of securities as a means of "locking in" attractive long-term interest rates. One reason is the need to reinvest prepayments of principal; another is the possibility of significant unscheduled prepayments resulting from declines in interest rates. These prepayments would have to be reinvested at lower rates. As a result, these securities may have less potential for capital appreciation during periods of declining interest rates than other securities of comparable maturities, although they may have a similar risk of decline in market value during periods of rising interest rates. Prepayments may also significantly shorten the effective maturities of these securities, especially during periods of declining interest rates. Conversely, during periods of rising interest rates, a reduction in prepayments may increase the effective maturities of these securities, subjecting them to a greater risk of decline in market value in response to rising interest rates than traditional debt securities, and, therefore, potentially increasing the volatility of the Funds.
At times, some of the mortgage-backed securities in which the Funds may invest will have higher than market interest rates and therefore will be purchased at a premium above their par value. Prepayments may cause losses in securities purchased at a premium, as unscheduled prepayments, which are made at par, will cause the Funds to experience a loss equal to any unamortized premium.
Certificates of Deposit and Bankers' Acceptances
Certificates of deposit are receipts issued by a depository institution in exchange for the deposit of funds. The issuer agrees to pay the amount deposited plus interest to the bearer of the receipt on the date specified on the certificate. The certificate usually can be traded in the secondary market prior to maturity.
The Funds may invest in insured bank obligations. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") insures the deposits of federally insured banks and savings and loan associations (collectively referred to as "banks") up to $250,000. The Funds may purchase bank obligations that are fully insured as to principal by the FDIC. Currently, to remain fully insured as to principal, these investments must be limited to $250,000 per bank; if the principal amount and accrued interest together exceed $250,000, the excess principal and accrued interest will not be insured. Insured bank obligations may have limited marketability.
Bankers' acceptances typically arise from short-term credit arrangements designed to enable businesses to obtain funds to finance commercial transactions. Generally, an acceptance is a time draft drawn on a bank by an exporter or an importer to obtain a stated amount of funds to pay for specific merchandise. The draft is then "accepted" by a bank that, in effect, unconditionally guarantees to pay the face value of the instrument on its maturity date. The acceptance may then be held by the accepting bank as an earning asset or it may be sold in the secondary market at the going rate of discount for a specific maturity. Although maturities for acceptances can be as long as 270 days, most acceptances have maturities of six months or less.
Time Deposits and Variable Rate Notes
The Funds may invest in fixed time deposits, whether or not subject to withdrawal penalties. The commercial paper obligations, which each Fund may buy are unsecured and may include variable rate notes. The nature and terms of a variable rate note (i.e., a "Master Note") permit the Funds to invest fluctuating amounts at varying rates of interest pursuant to a direct arrangement between each Fund as lender, and the issuer, as borrower. It permits daily changes in the amounts borrowed. Each Fund has the right at any time to increase, up to the full amount stated in the note agreement, or to decrease the amount outstanding under the note. The issuer may prepay at any time and without penalty any part of or the full amount of the note. The note may or may not be backed by one or more bank letters of credit. Because these notes are direct lending arrangements between the Funds and the issuer, it is not generally contemplated that they will be traded; moreover, there is currently no secondary market for them. Except as specifically provided in the Prospectus, there is no limitation on the type of issuer from whom these notes may be purchased; however, in connection with such purchase and on an ongoing basis, the Adviser will consider the earning power, cash flow and other liquidity ratios of the issuer, and its ability to pay principal and interest on demand, including a situation in which all holders of such notes made demand simultaneously. Variable rate notes are subject to the Funds' investment restriction on illiquid securities unless such notes can be put back to the issuer on demand within seven days.
The Funds may purchase commercial paper. Commercial paper consists of short-term (usually from 1 to 270 days) unsecured promissory notes issued by corporations in order to finance their current operations. It may be secured by letters of credit, a surety bond or other forms of collateral. Commercial paper is usually repaid at maturity by the issuer from the proceeds of the issuance of new commercial
paper. As a result, investment in commercial paper is subject to the risk the issuer cannot issue enough new commercial paper to satisfy its outstanding commercial paper, also known as rollover risk. Commercial paper may become illiquid or may suffer from reduced liquidity in certain circumstances. Like all fixed income securities, commercial paper prices are susceptible to fluctuations in interest rates. If interest rates rise, commercial paper prices will decline. The short-term nature of a commercial paper investment makes it less susceptible to interest rate risk than many other fixed income securities because interest rate risk typically increases as maturity lengths increase. Commercial paper tends to yield smaller returns than longer-term corporate debt because securities with shorter maturities typically have lower effective yields than those with longer maturities. As with all fixed income securities, there is a chance that the issuer will default on its commercial paper obligation.
The Funds may enter into repurchase agreements. In a repurchase agreement, an investor (such as each Fund) purchases a security (known as the "underlying security") from a securities dealer or bank. Any such dealer or bank must be deemed creditworthy by the Adviser. At that time, the bank or securities dealer agrees to repurchase the underlying security at a mutually agreed upon price on a designated future date. The repurchase price may be higher than the purchase price, the difference being income to each Fund, or the purchase and repurchase prices may be the same, with interest at an agreed upon rate due to each Fund on repurchase. In either case, the income to each Fund generally will be unrelated to the interest rate on the underlying securities. Repurchase agreements must be "fully collateralized," in that the market value of the underlying securities (including accrued interest) must at all times be equal to or greater than the repurchase price. Therefore, a repurchase agreement can be considered a loan collateralized by the underlying securities.
Repurchase agreements are generally for a short period of time, often less than a week, and will generally be used by each Fund to invest excess cash or as part of a temporary defensive strategy. Repurchase agreements that do not provide for payment within seven days will be treated as illiquid securities. In the event of a bankruptcy or other default by the seller of a repurchase agreement, each Fund could experience both delays in liquidating the underlying security and losses. These losses could result from: (a) possible decline in the value of the underlying security while each Fund is seeking to enforce its rights under the repurchase agreement; (b) possible reduced levels of income or lack of access to income during this period; and (c) expenses of enforcing its rights.
High Yield Securities
The Funds may invest in high yield securities. High yield, high risk bonds are securities that are generally rated below investment grade by the primary rating agencies (BB+ or lower by S&P and Ba1 or lower by Moody's). Other terms used to describe such securities include "lower rated bonds," "non-investment grade bonds," "below investment grade bonds," and "junk bonds." These securities are considered to be high-risk investments. The risks include the following:
Greater Risk of Loss. These securities are regarded as predominately speculative. There is a greater risk that issuers of lower rated securities will default than issuers of higher rated securities. Issuers of lower rated securities generally are less creditworthy and may be highly indebted, financially distressed, or bankrupt. These issuers are more vulnerable to real or perceived economic changes, political changes or adverse industry developments. In addition, high yield securities are frequently subordinated to the prior payment of senior indebtedness. If an issuer fails to pay principal or interest, each Fund would experience a decrease in income and a decline in the market value of its investments.
Sensitivity to Interest Rate and Economic Changes. The income and market value of lower-rated securities may fluctuate more than higher rated securities. Although non-investment grade securities tend to be less sensitive to interest rate changes than investment grade securities, non-investment grade securities are more sensitive to short-term corporate, economic and market developments. During periods of economic uncertainty and change, the market price of the investments in lower-rated securities may be volatile. The default rate for high yield bonds tends to be cyclical, with defaults rising in periods of economic downturn.
Valuation Difficulties. It is often more difficult to value lower rated securities than higher rated securities. If an issuer's financial condition deteriorates, accurate financial and business information may be limited or unavailable. In addition, the lower rated investments may be thinly traded and there may be no established secondary market. Because of the lack of market pricing and current information for investments in lower rated securities, valuation of such investments is much more dependent on judgment than is the case with higher rated securities.
Liquidity. There may be no established secondary or public market for investments in lower rated securities. Such securities are frequently traded in markets that may be relatively less liquid than the market for higher rated securities. In addition, relatively few institutional purchasers may hold a major portion of an issue of lower-rated securities at times. As a result, the Funds may be required to sell investments at substantial losses or retain them indefinitely when an issuer's financial condition is deteriorating.
Credit Quality. Credit quality of non-investment grade securities can change suddenly and unexpectedly, and even recently-issued credit ratings may not fully reflect the actual risks posed by a particular high-yield security.
New Legislation. Future legislation may have a possible negative impact on the market for high yield, high risk bonds. New legislation, if enacted, could have a material negative effect on the Fund's investments in lower rated securities.
High yield. High risk investments may include the following:
Straight fixed-income debt securities. These include bonds and other debt obligations that bear a fixed or variable rate of interest payable at regular intervals and have a fixed or resettable maturity date. The particular terms of such securities vary and may include features such as call provisions and sinking funds.
Zero-coupon debt securities. These bear no interest obligation but are issued at a discount from their value at maturity. When held to maturity, their entire return equals the difference between their issue price and their maturity value.
Zero-fixed-coupon debt securities. These are zero-coupon debt securities that convert on a specified date to interest-bearing debt securities.
Pay-in-kind bonds. These are bonds which allow the issuer, at its option, to make current interest payments on the bonds either in cash or in additional bonds. These are bonds sold without registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), usually to a relatively small number of institutional investors.
Convertible Securities. These are bonds or preferred stock that may be converted to common stock.
Preferred Stock. These are stocks that generally pay a dividend at a specified rate and have preference over common stock in the payment of dividends and in liquidation.
Loan Participations and Assignments. These are participations in, or assignments of all or a portion of loans to corporations or to governments, including governments of less developed countries.
Securities issued in connection with Reorganizations and Corporate Restructurings. In connection with reorganizing or restructuring of an issuer, an issuer may issue common stock or other securities to holders of its debt securities. The Funds may hold such common stock and other securities even if it does not invest in such securities.
Municipal Government Obligations
In general, municipal obligations are debt obligations issued by or on behalf of states, territories and possessions of the United States (including the District of Columbia) and their political subdivisions, agencies and instrumentalities. Municipal obligations generally include debt obligations issued to obtain funds for various public purposes. Certain types of municipal obligations are issued in whole or in part to obtain funding for privately operated facilities or projects. Municipal obligations include general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, industrial development bonds, notes and municipal lease obligations. Municipal obligations also include additional obligations, the interest on which is exempt from federal income tax, that may become available in the future as long as the Board determines that an investment in any such type of obligation is consistent with the Funds' investment objectives. Municipal obligations may be fully or partially backed by local government, the credit of a private issuer, current or anticipated revenues from a specific project or specific assets or domestic or foreign entities providing credit support such as letters of credit, guarantees or insurance.
Bonds and Notes. General obligation bonds are secured by the issuer's pledge of its full faith, credit and taxing power for the payment of interest and principal. Revenue bonds are payable only from the revenues derived from a project or facility or from the proceeds of a specified revenue source. Industrial development bonds are generally revenue bonds secured by payments from and the credit of private users. Municipal notes are issued to meet the short-term funding requirements of state, regional and local governments. Municipal notes include tax anticipation notes, bond anticipation notes, revenue anticipation notes, tax and revenue anticipation notes, construction loan notes, short-term discount notes, tax-exempt commercial paper, demand notes and similar instruments.
Municipal Lease Obligations. Municipal lease obligations may take the form of a lease, an installment purchase or a conditional sales contract. They are issued by state and local governments and authorities to acquire land, equipment and facilities, such as vehicles, telecommunications and computer equipment and other capital assets. The Funds may invest in Underlying Funds that purchase these lease obligations directly, or it may purchase participation interests in such lease obligations (See "Participation Interests" section). States have different requirements for issuing municipal debt and issuing municipal leases. Municipal leases are generally subject to greater risks than general obligation or revenue bonds because they usually contain a "non-appropriation" clause, which provides that the issuer is not obligated to make payments on the obligation in future years unless funds have been appropriated for this purpose each year. Such non-appropriation clauses are required to avoid the municipal lease obligations from being treated as debt for state debt restriction purposes. Accordingly, such obligations are subject to "non-appropriation" risk. Municipal leases may be secured
by the underlying capital asset and it may be difficult to dispose of any such asset in the event of non-appropriation or other default.
Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”)
An MLP is an entity that is generally taxed as a partnership for federal income tax purposes and that derives each year at least 90% of its gross income from “Qualifying Income.” Qualifying Income for MLPs includes interest, dividends, real estate rents, gain from the sale or disposition of real property, income and gain from commodities or commodity futures, and income and gain from mineral or natural resources activities that generate Qualifying Income. MLP interests (known as units) are traded on securities exchanges or over-the-counter. An MLP’s organization as a partnership and compliance with the Qualifying Income rules generally eliminates federal tax at the entity level.
An MLP has one or more general partners (who may be individuals, corporations, or other partnerships) which manage the partnership, and limited partners, which provide capital to the partnership but have no role in its management. Typically, the general partner is owned by company management or another publicly traded sponsoring corporation. When an investor buys units in an MLP, the investor becomes a limited partner.
MLPs are formed in several ways. A nontraded partnership may decide to go public. Several nontraded partnerships may roll up into a single MLP. A corporation may spin-off a group of assets or part of its business into an MLP of which it is the general partner, to realize the assets’ full value on the marketplace by selling the assets and using the cash proceeds received from the MLP to address debt obligations or to invest in higher growth opportunities, while retaining control of the MLP. A corporation may fully convert to an MLP, although since 1986 the tax consequences have made this an unappealing option for most corporations. Unlike the ways described above, it is also possible for a newly formed entity to commence operations as an MLP from its inception.
The sponsor or general partner of an MLP, other energy companies, and utilities may sell assets to MLPs in order to generate cash to fund expansion projects or repay debt. The MLP structure essentially transfers cash flows generated from these acquired assets directly to MLP limited partner unitholders.
In the case of an MLP buying assets from its sponsor or general partner the transaction is intended to be based upon comparable terms in the acquisition market for similar assets. To help ensure that appropriate protections are in place, the board of the MLP generally creates an independent committee to review and approve the terms of the transaction. The committee often obtains a fairness opinion and can retain counsel or other experts to assist its evaluation. Since both parties normally have a significant equity stake in the MLP, both parties are aligned to see that the transaction is accretive and fair to the MLP.
As a motivation for the general partner to successfully manage the MLP and increase cash flows, the terms of MLPs typically provide that the general partner receives a larger portion of the net income as distributions reach higher target levels. As cash flow grows, the general partner receives a greater interest in the incremental income compared to the interest of limited partners. Although the percentages vary among MLPs, the general partner’s marginal interest in distributions generally increases from 2% to 15% at the first designated distribution target level moving up to 25% and ultimately 50% as pre-established distribution per unit thresholds are met. Nevertheless, the aggregate amount distributed to limited partners will increase as MLP distributions reach higher target levels.
Given this incentive structure, the general partner has an incentive to streamline operations and undertake acquisitions and growth projects in order to increase distributions to all partners.
Because the MLP itself generally does not pay federal income tax, its income or loss is allocated to its investors, irrespective of whether the investors receive any cash payment or other distributions from the MLP. An MLP typically makes quarterly cash distributions. Although they resemble corporate dividends, MLP distributions are treated differently for tax purposes. The MLP distribution is treated as a return of capital to the extent of the investor’s basis in his MLP interest and, to the extent the distribution exceeds the investor’s basis in the MLP, generally as capital gain. The investor’s original basis is the price paid for the units. The basis is adjusted downwards with each distribution and allocation of deductions (such as depreciation) and losses, and upwards with each allocation of taxable income and gain. If a Fund keeps MLP investments until the basis is zero, subsequent distributions will be taxable to the Fund at ordinary income rates and shareholders may receive a corrected 1099.
The partner will not incur federal income tax on distributions until: (1) he sells his MLP units and pays tax on his gain, which gain is increased due to the basis decrease due to prior distributions; or (2) his basis reaches zero. When the units are sold, the difference between the sales price and the investor’s adjusted basis is gain or loss for federal income tax purposes.
The business of certain MLPs is affected by supply and demand for energy commodities because such MLPs derive revenue and income based upon the volume of the underlying commodity produced, transported, processed, distributed, and/or marketed. Pipeline MLPs have indirect commodity exposure to gas and oil price volatility because although they do not own the underlying energy commodity, the general level of commodity prices may affect the volume of the commodity that the MLP delivers to its customers and the cost of providing services such as distributing natural gas liquids. The costs of natural gas pipeline MLPs to perform services may exceed the negotiated rates under “negotiated rate” contracts. Specifically, processing MLPs may be directly affected by energy commodity prices. Propane MLPs own the underlying energy commodity, and therefore have direct exposure to energy commodity prices, although the Adviser intends to target high quality MLPs that seek to mitigate or manage direct margin exposure to commodity prices. However, the MLP industry in general could be hurt by market perception that an MLP’s performance and valuation are directly tied to commodity prices.
Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”)
The Funds may invest in the equity securities of REITs focused on the energy industry. A REIT is a corporation or business trust that invests in real estate and derives its income from rents or sales of real property or interest on loans secured by mortgages on real property. The market value of REITs may be affected by numerous factors, including decreases in the value of real estate, vacancies, decreases in lease rates, defaults by lessees, changes in the tax laws or by their inability to qualify for the tax-free pass-through of their income.
Energy Trust Securities
The Funds may invest in U.S. royalty trusts. U.S. royalty trusts are generally not subject to U.S. federal corporate income taxation at the trust or entity level. Instead, each unitholder of the U.S. royalty trust is required to take into account its share of all items of the U.S. royalty trust’s income, gain, loss, deduction and expense. It is possible that a Fund’s share of taxable income from a U.S. royalty trust may exceed the cash actually distributed to it from the U.S. royalty trust in a given year. In such a case, each Fund will have less after-tax cash available for distribution to shareholders.
Exchange-Traded Notes (“ETNs”)
The Funds may invest in ETNs, which are senior, unsecured, unsubordinated debt securities whose returns are linked to the performance of a particular market benchmark or strategy, minus applicable fees. ETNs are traded on an exchange (e.g., the New York Stock Exchange) during normal trading hours; however, investors also can hold ETNs until they mature. At maturity, the issuer pays to the investor a cash amount equal to the principal amount, subject to the day’s market benchmark or strategy factor. ETNs do not make periodic coupon payments or provide principal protection. ETNs are subject to credit risk, including the credit risk of the issuer, and the value of the ETN may drop due to a downgrade in the issuer’s credit rating, despite the underlying market benchmark or strategy remaining unchanged. The value of an ETN also may be influenced by time to maturity, level of supply and demand for the ETN, volatility and lack of liquidity in underlying assets, changes in the applicable interest rates, changes in the issuer‘s credit rating, and economic, legal, political, or geographic events that affect the referenced underlying asset. When the Funds invest in ETNs, they will bear their proportionate share of any fees and expenses borne by the ETN. A decision by the Funds to sell ETN holdings may be limited by the availability of a secondary market. In addition, although an ETN may be listed on an exchange, the issuer may not be required to maintain the listing, and there can be no assurance that a secondary market will exist for an ETN.
ETNs also are subject to tax risk. No assurance can be given that the IRS will accept, or a court will uphold, how the Funds characterize and treat ETNs for tax purposes.
An ETN that is tied to a specific market benchmark or strategy may not be able to replicate and maintain exactly the composition and relative weighting of securities, commodities or other components in the applicable market benchmark or strategy. Some ETNs that use leverage can, at times, be relatively illiquid, and thus they may be difficult to purchase or sell at a fair price. Leveraged ETNs are subject to the same risk as other instruments that use leverage in any form. The market value of ETNs may differ from their market benchmark or strategy. This difference in price may be due to the fact that the supply and demand in the market for ETNs at any point in time is not always identical to the supply and demand in the market for the securities, commodities or other components underlying the market benchmark or strategy that the ETN seeks to track. As a result, there may be times when an ETN trades at a premium or discount to its market benchmark or strategy.
United States Government Obligations
These consist of various types of marketable securities issued by the United States Treasury, i.e., bills, notes and bonds. Such securities are direct obligations of the United States government and differ mainly in the length of their maturity. Treasury bills, the most frequently issued marketable government security, have a maturity of up to one year and are issued on a discount basis. The Funds may also invest in Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (“TIPS”). TIPS are special types of treasury bonds that were created in order to offer bond investors protection from inflation. The values of the TIPS are automatically adjusted to the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”). If the CPI goes up by half a percent, the value of the bond (the TIPS) would also go up by half a percent. If the CPI falls, the value of the bond does not fall because the government guarantees that the original investment will stay the same. TIPS decline in value when real interest rates rise. However, in certain interest rate environments, such as when real interest rates are rising faster than nominal interest rates, TIPS may experience greater losses than other fixed income securities with similar duration.
United States Government Agency Obligations
These consist of debt securities issued by agencies and instrumentalities of the United States government, including the various types of instruments currently outstanding or which may be offered in the future. Agencies include, among others, the Federal Housing Administration, Government National Mortgage Association ("GNMA"), Farmer's Home Administration, Export-Import Bank of the United States, Maritime Administration, and General Services Administration. Instrumentalities include, for example, each of the Federal Home Loan Banks, the National Bank for Cooperatives, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ("FHLMC"), the Farm Credit Banks, the Federal National Mortgage Association ("FNMA"), and the United States Postal Service. These securities are either: (i) backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government (e.g., United States Treasury Bills); (ii) guaranteed by the United States Treasury (e.g., GNMA mortgage-backed securities); (iii) supported by the issuing agency's or instrumentality's right to borrow from the United States Treasury (e.g., FNMA Discount Notes); or (iv) supported only by the issuing agency's or instrumentality's own credit (e.g., Tennessee Valley Association). On September 7, 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Authority (the "FHFA") announced that FNMA and FHLMC had been placed into conservatorship, a statutory process designed to stabilize a troubled institution with the objective of returning the entity to normal business operations. The U.S. Treasury Department and the FHFA at the same time established a secured lending facility and a Secured Stock Purchase Agreement with both FNMA and FHLMC to ensure that each entity had the ability to fulfill its financial obligations. The FHFA announced that it does not anticipate any disruption in pattern of payments or ongoing business operations of FNMA and FHLMC.
Government-related guarantors (i.e., not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government) include FNMA and FHLMC. FNMA is a government-sponsored corporation owned entirely by private stockholders. It is subject to general regulation by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. FNMA purchases conventional (i.e., not insured or guaranteed by any government agency) residential mortgages from a list of approved seller/servicers which include state and federally chartered savings and loan associations, mutual savings banks, commercial banks and credit unions and mortgage bankers. Pass-through securities issued by FNMA are guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest by FNMA but are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.
FHLMC was created by Congress in 1970 for the purpose of increasing the availability of mortgage credit for residential housing. It is a government-sponsored corporation formerly owned by the twelve Federal Home Loan Banks and now owned entirely by private stockholders. FHLMC issues participation certificates ("PCs"), which represent interests in conventional mortgages from FHLMC's national portfolio. FHLMC guarantees the timely payment of interest and ultimate collection of principal, but PCs are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. Commercial banks, savings and loan institutions, private mortgage insurance companies, mortgage bankers and other secondary market issuers also create pass-through pools of conventional residential mortgage loans. Such issuers may, in addition, be the originators and/or servicers of the underlying mortgage loans as well as the guarantors of the mortgage-related securities. Pools created by such nongovernmental issuers generally offer a higher rate of interest than government and government-related pools because there are no direct or indirect government or agency guarantees of payments in the former pools. However, timely payment of interest and principal of these pools may be supported by various forms of insurance or guarantees, including individual loan, title, pool and hazard insurance and letters of credit. The insurance and guarantees are issued by governmental entities, private insurers and the mortgage poolers.
Securities of Other Investment Companies
The Funds may invest in securities issued by other investment companies. The Funds intend to limit their investments in accordance with applicable law or as permitted by Rule 12d1-4. Among other things, such law would limit these investments so that, as determined immediately after a securities purchase is made by a Fund: (a) not more than 5% of the value of its total assets will be invested in the securities of any one investment company (the “5% Limitation”); (b) not more than 10% of the value of its total assets will be invested in the aggregate in securities of investment companies as a group (the “10% Limitation”); (c) not more than 3% of the outstanding voting stock of any one investment company will be owned by the Fund (the “3% Limitation”); and (d) not more than 10% of the outstanding voting stock of any one closed-end investment company will be owned by the Fund together with all other investment companies that have the same advisor. Under certain sets of conditions, different sets of restrictions may be applicable. As a shareholder of another investment company, a Fund would bear, along with other shareholders, its proportionate share of that investment company’s expenses, including advisory fees. These expenses would be in addition to the advisory and other expenses that the Fund bears directly in connection with its own operations. Investment companies in which the Fund may invest may also impose a sales or distribution charge in connection with the purchase or redemption of their shares and other types of commissions or charges. Such charges will be payable by the Fund and, therefore, will be borne directly by the Fund’s shareholders.
To the extent applicable, the Funds intend to rely on Section 12(d)(1)(F) and Rule 12d1-4 under the 1940 Act, which in conjunction with one another allow registered investment companies (such as the Fund) to exceed the 3%, 5% and 10% Limitation and the 10% Limitations, provided the aggregate sales loads any investor pays (i.e., the combined distribution expenses of both the acquiring fund and the acquired funds) do not exceed the limits on sales loads established by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) for funds of funds, and the registered investment company “mirror votes” any securities purchased pursuant to Section 12(d)(1)(F).
The Funds' investments in exchange-traded funds ("ETFs"), mutual funds and closed-end funds (together "Underlying Funds") involve certain additional expenses and certain tax results, which would not be present in a direct investment in an Underlying Fund.
Underlying Funds may invest in domestic and foreign (including emerging markets) (i) fixed income securities (including bills, notes, debentures, bonds, convertible securities, and any other debt or debt-related securities) whether issued by U.S. or non-U.S. governments, agencies or instrumentalities thereof or corporate entities, and having fixed, variable, floating or inverse floating rates, (ii) fixed income derivatives including options, financial futures, options on futures and swaps, (iii) other evidences of indebtedness, (iv) income producing equity securities (including dividend paying common stocks, preferred stock and REITs) of any market capitalization and (v) commodities. The fixed income securities held by Underlying Funds may be of any maturity or credit quality (including "junk bonds"). Underlying Funds in which the Funds invest may also engage in short selling, employ leverage, or inverse strategies. Inverse Underlying Funds are designed to produce daily returns, before the effect of fees and expenses, that are the opposite of the daily returns of a reference index. Leveraged Underlying Funds are designed to produce daily returns, before the effect of fees and expenses, that are a multiple of the daily returns of a reference index.
Underlying Funds Risk. Because the Funds may invest in Underlying Funds your cost of investing in a Fund will be higher than the cost of investing directly in ETFs, mutual funds, or closed-end funds and may be higher than other mutual funds that invest directly in stocks and bonds. You will indirectly bear fees and expenses charged by the Underlying Funds in addition to a Fund’s direct fees and expenses. When a Fund invests in Underlying Funds that use margin, leverage, short sales and other forms of
financial derivatives, such as options and futures, an investment in the Fund may be more volatile than investments in other mutual funds. Short sales are speculative investments and will cause a Fund to lose money if the value of a security sold short by the Underlying Fund in which the Fund invests, does not go down as expected.
Additional risks of investing in Underlying Funds, where noted, are described below:
|o||Tracking Risk: Investment in a Fund should be made with the understanding that the passive Underlying Funds in which the Fund invests will not be able to replicate exactly the performance of the indices they track because the total return generated by the securities will be reduced by transaction costs incurred in adjusting the actual balance of the securities. In addition, the passive Underlying Funds in which a Fund invests will incur expenses not incurred by their applicable indices. Certain securities comprising the indices tracked by the passive Underlying Funds may, from time to time, temporarily be unavailable, which may further impede the passive Underlying Funds' ability to track their applicable indices.|
|o||Inverse Correlation Risk: Underlying Funds that are inverse funds should lose value as the index or security tracked by such fund’s benchmark increases in value; a result that is the opposite from traditional mutual funds. Successful use of inverse funds requires that the Adviser correctly predict short term market movements. If a Fund invests in an inverse fund and markets rise, the Fund could lose money. Inverse funds may also employ leverage such that their returns are more than one times that of their benchmark.|
|o||Leveraging Risk: The use of leverage by the Underlying Funds, such as borrowing money to purchase securities, engaging in reverse repurchase agreements, lending portfolio securities and engaging in forward commitment transactions, will magnify the Underlying Fund's gains or losses. During periods in which an Underlying Fund is utilizing financial leverage, the fees which are payable to its manager as a percentage of the Underlying Fund's assets may be higher than if the Underlying Fund did not use leverage, because the fees are calculated as a percentage of the Underlying Fund's assets, including those purchased with leveraging. Due to the effect of compounding, leveraged Underlying Funds' performance over longer periods of time can differ significantly from the performance of their underlying index or benchmark during the same period of time.|
|o||Management Risk: When a Fund invests in Underlying Funds there is a risk that the managers of those Underlying Funds may make investment decisions that are detrimental to the performance of the Fund.|
|o||Net Asset Value and Market Price Risk: The market value of ETF and closed-end fund shares may differ from their net asset value. This difference in price may be due to the fact that the supply and demand in the market for fund shares at any point in time is not always identical to the supply and demand in the market for the underlying basket or portfolio of securities. Accordingly, there may be times when shares trade at a premium or discount to net asset value.|
|o||Mutual Fund Risk (HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund and HCM Tactical Growth Fund only): The strategy of investing in Underlying Funds that are mutual funds could affect the timing, amount and character of distributions to you and therefore may increase the amount of taxes you pay. In addition, certain prohibitions on the acquisition of mutual fund shares by a Fund may prevent the Fund from allocating its investments in the manner the adviser considers optimal. The Funds intend to purchase mutual funds that are either no-load or waive the sales load for purchases made by a Fund. The Funds will not purchase mutual funds that charge a sales load upon redemption. In the event that a mutual fund charges|
a redemption fee, then you will indirectly bear the expense by investing in a Fund. Mutual funds whose shares are purchased by the Funds will be obligated to redeem shares held by a Fund only in an amount up to 1% of the mutual fund's outstanding shares during any period of less than 30 days. Shares held by a Fund in excess of 1% of a mutual fund's outstanding shares therefore, may be considered not readily marketable securities, which, together with other such securities, may not exceed 15% of a Fund's total assets. This liquidity risk is reduced, however, if the mutual funds in which a Fund may invest have a policy of not taking advantage of this 1% threshold and, in fact, go so far as to encourage frequent purchases and redemptions of any size. In addition, certain mutual funds have exemptive orders in place that allow a Fund to own up to 25% of the assets of said fund. When a Fund focuses its investments in certain mutual funds, the Fund's portfolio will have a risk profile for such investments that will correspond to that of such mutual funds and Management Risk, described above, increases proportionately.
|o||Strategies Risk: Each Underlying Fund is subject to specific risks, depending on the nature of the fund. These risks could include liquidity risk, sector risk, and foreign currency risk, as well as risks associated with fixed income securities and commodities.|
Closed-End Investment Companies
The Funds may invest its assets in "closed-end" investment companies (or "closed-end funds"), subject to the investment restrictions set forth above. Shares of closed-end funds are typically offered to the public in a one-time initial public offering by a group of underwriters who retain a spread or underwriting commission of between 4% or 6% of the initial public offering price. Such securities are then listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System (commonly known as "NASDAQ") and, in some cases, may be traded in other over-the-counter markets. Because the shares of closed-end funds cannot be redeemed upon demand to the issuer like the shares of an open-end investment company (such as the Funds), investors seek to buy and sell shares of closed-end funds in the secondary market.
The Funds generally purchases shares of closed-end funds only in the secondary market. Each Fund incurs normal brokerage costs on such purchases similar to the expenses each Fund would incur for the purchase of securities of any other type of issuer in the secondary market. Each Fund may, however, also purchase securities of a closed-end fund in an initial public offering when, in the opinion of the Adviser, based on a consideration of the nature of the closed-end fund's proposed investments, the prevailing market conditions and the level of demand for such securities, they represent an attractive opportunity for growth of capital. The initial offering price typically will include a dealer spread, which may be higher than the applicable brokerage cost if the Funds purchased such securities in the secondary market.
The shares of many closed-end funds, after their initial public offering, frequently trade at a price per share, which is less than the net asset value (“NAV”) per share, the difference representing the "market discount" of such shares. This market discount may be due in part to the investment objective of long-term appreciation, which is sought by many closed-end funds, as well as to the fact that the shares of closed-end funds are not redeemable by the holder upon demand to the issuer at the next determined NAV but rather are subject to the principles of supply and demand in the secondary market. A relative lack of secondary market purchasers of closed-end fund shares also may contribute to such shares trading at a discount to their NAV.
The Funds may invest in shares of closed-end funds that are trading at a discount to NAV or at a premium to NAV. There can be no assurance that the market discount on shares of any closed-end
fund purchased by each Fund will ever decrease. In fact, it is possible that this market discount may increase and a Fund may suffer realized or unrealized capital losses due to further decline in the market price of the securities of such closed-end funds, thereby adversely affecting the NAV of the Fund’s shares. Similarly, there can be no assurance that any shares of a closed-end fund purchased by each Fund at a premium will continue to trade at a premium or that the premium will not decrease subsequent to a purchase of such shares by the Fund.
Closed-end funds may issue senior securities (including preferred stock and debt obligations) for the purpose of leveraging the closed-end fund's common shares in an attempt to enhance the current return to such closed-end fund's common shareholders. The Funds' investment in the common shares of closed-end funds that are financially leveraged may create an opportunity for greater total return on its investment, but at the same time may be expected to exhibit more volatility in market price and NAV than an investment in shares of investment companies without a leveraged capital structure.
Open End Investment Companies
Under certain circumstances, an underlying fund may determine to make payment of a redemption by the Funds wholly or partly by a distribution in kind of securities from its portfolio, in lieu of cash, in conformity with the rules of the SEC. In such cases, the Funds may hold securities distributed by an underlying fund until the Adviser determines that it is appropriate to dispose of such securities.
Investment decisions by the investment advisers of the underlying fund(s) are made independently of the Funds and the Adviser. Therefore, the investment adviser of one Underlying Fund may be purchasing shares of the same issuer whose shares are being sold by the investment adviser of another such fund. The result would be an indirect expense to the Funds without accomplishing any investment purpose.
Exchange Traded Funds
The Funds may invest in ETFs. An ETF is a type of open-end fund, however, unlike a mutual fund, its shares are bought and sold on a securities exchange at market price and only certain financial institutions called authorized participants may buy and redeem shares of the ETF at net asset value. ETF shares can trade at either a premium or discount to net asset value. Each ETF like a mutual fund is subject to specific risks depending on the type of strategy (actively managed or passively tracking an index) and the composition of its underlying holdings. Investing in an ETF involves substantially the same risks as investing directly in the ETF’s underlying holdings. ETFs pay fees and incur operating expenses, which reduce the total return earned by the ETFs from their underlying holdings. An ETF may not achieve its investment objective or execute its investment strategy effectively, which may adversely affect a Fund’s performance.
General. The Funds may invest in foreign securities and ETFs and other investment companies that hold a portfolio of foreign securities. Investing in securities of foreign companies and countries involves certain considerations and risks that are not typically associated with investing in U.S. government securities and securities of domestic companies. There may be less publicly available information about a foreign issuer than a domestic one, and foreign companies are not generally subject to uniform accounting, auditing and financial standards and requirements comparable to those applicable to U.S. companies. There may also be less government supervision and regulation of foreign securities exchanges, brokers and listed companies than exists in the United States. Interest and dividends paid by foreign issuers may be subject to withholding and other foreign taxes, which may
decrease the net return on such investments as compared to dividends and interest paid to the Funds by domestic companies or the U.S. government. There may be the possibility of expropriations, seizure or nationalization of foreign deposits, confiscatory taxation, political, economic or social instability or diplomatic developments that could affect assets of each Fund held in foreign countries. Finally, the establishment of exchange controls or other foreign governmental laws or restrictions could adversely affect the payment of obligations.
To the extent a Fund’s currency exchange transactions do not fully protect it against adverse changes in currency exchange rates, decreases in the value of currencies of the foreign countries in which each Fund will invest relative to the U.S. dollar will result in a corresponding decrease in the U.S. dollar value of the Funds' assets denominated in those currencies (and possibly a corresponding increase in the amount of securities required to be liquidated to meet distribution requirements). Conversely, increases in the value of currencies of the foreign countries in which a Fund invests relative to the U.S. dollar will result in a corresponding increase in the U.S. dollar value of the Fund’s assets (and possibly a corresponding decrease in the amount of securities to be liquidated).
The Funds may purchase and write (i.e., sell) put and call options. Such options may relate to particular securities or stock indices, and may or may not be listed on a domestic or foreign securities exchange and may or may not be issued by the Options Clearing Corporation. Options trading is a highly specialized activity that entails greater than ordinary investment risk. Options may be more volatile than the underlying instruments, and therefore, on a percentage basis, an investment in options may be subject to greater fluctuation than an investment in the underlying instruments themselves.
A call option for a particular security gives the purchaser of the option the right to buy, and the writer (seller) the obligation to sell, the underlying security at the stated exercise price at any time prior to the expiration of the option, regardless of the market price of the security. The premium paid to the writer is in consideration for undertaking the obligation under the option contract. A put option for a particular security gives the purchaser the right to sell the security at the stated exercise price at any time prior to the expiration date of the option, regardless of the market price of the security.
Stock index options are put options and call options on various stock indices. In most respects, they are identical to listed options on common stocks. The primary difference between stock options and index options occurs when index options are exercised. In the case of stock options, the underlying security, common stock, is delivered. However, upon the exercise of an index option, settlement does not occur by delivery of the securities comprising the index. The option holder who exercises the index option receives an amount of cash if the closing level of the stock index upon which the option is based is greater than, in the case of a call, or less than, in the case of a put, the exercise price of the option. This amount of cash is equal to the difference between the closing price of the stock index and the exercise price of the option expressed in dollars times a specified multiple. A stock index fluctuates with changes in the market value of the stocks included in the index. For example, some stock index options are based on a broad market index, such as the Standard & Poor's 500® Index or the Value Line Composite Index or a narrower market index, such as the Standard & Poor's 100®. Indices may also be based on an industry or market segment, such as the NYSE Arca Oil Index. Options on stock indices are currently traded on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, the NYSE American and the Nasdaq OMX PHLX.
The Funds' obligation to sell an instrument subject to a call option written by it, or to purchase an instrument subject to a put option written by it, may be terminated prior to the expiration date of the option by the Funds' execution of a closing purchase transaction, which is effected by purchasing on
an exchange an option of the same series (i.e., same underlying instrument, exercise price and expiration date) as the option previously written. A closing purchase transaction will ordinarily be effected to realize a profit on an outstanding option, to prevent an underlying instrument from being called, to permit the sale of the underlying instrument or to permit the writing of a new option containing different terms on such underlying instrument. The cost of such a liquidation purchase plus transactions costs may be greater than the premium received upon the original option, in which event the Funds will have paid a loss in the transaction. There is no assurance that a liquid secondary market will exist for any particular option. An option writer unable to effect a closing purchase transaction will not be able to sell the underlying instrument or liquidate the assets held in a segregated account, as described below, until the option expires or the optioned instrument is delivered upon exercise. In such circumstances, the writer will be subject to the risk of market decline or appreciation in the instrument during such period.
If an option purchased by a Fund expires unexercised, the Fund realizes a loss equal to the premium paid. If a Fund enters into a closing sale transaction on an option purchased by it, the Fund will realize a gain if the premium received by the Fund on the closing transaction is more than the premium paid to purchase the option, or a loss if it is less. If an option written by a Fund expires on the stipulated expiration date or if the Fund enters into a closing purchase transaction, it will realize a gain (or loss if the cost of a closing purchase transaction exceeds the net premium received when the option is sold). If an option written by a Fund is exercised, the proceeds of the sale will be increased by the net premium originally received and the Fund will realize a gain or loss.
Certain Risks Regarding Options.
There are several risks associated with transactions in options. For example, there are significant differences between the securities and options markets that could result in an imperfect correlation between these markets, causing a given transaction not to achieve its objectives. In addition, a liquid secondary market for particular options, whether traded over-the-counter or on an exchange, may be absent for reasons which include the following: there may be insufficient trading interest in certain options; restrictions may be imposed by an exchange on opening transactions or closing transactions or both; trading halts, suspensions or other restrictions may be imposed with respect to particular classes or series of options or underlying securities or currencies; unusual or unforeseen circumstances may interrupt normal operations on an exchange; the facilities of an exchange or the Options Clearing Corporation may not at all times be adequate to handle current trading value; or one or more exchanges could, for economic or other reasons, decide or be compelled at some future date to discontinue the trading of options (or a particular class or series of options), in which event the secondary market on that exchange (or in that class or series of options) would cease to exist, although outstanding options that had been issued by the Options Clearing Corporation as a result of trades on that exchange would continue to be exercisable in accordance with their terms.
Successful use by each Fund of options on stock indices will be subject to the ability of the Adviser to correctly predict movements in the directions of the stock market. This requires different skills and techniques than predicting changes in the prices of individual securities. In addition, a Fund's ability to effectively hedge all or a portion of the securities in its portfolio, in anticipation of or during a market decline, through transactions in put options on stock indices, depends on the degree to which price movements in the underlying index correlate with the price movements of the securities held by each Fund. Inasmuch as the Funds' securities will not duplicate the components of an index, the correlation will not be perfect. Consequently, each Fund bears the risk that the prices of its securities being hedged will not move in the same amount as the prices of its put options on the stock indices. It is also possible that there may be a negative correlation between the index and the Funds' securities
that would result in a loss on both such securities and the options on stock indices acquired by each Fund.
The hours of trading for options may not conform to the hours during which the underlying securities are traded. To the extent that the options markets close before the markets for the underlying securities, significant price and rate movements can take place in the underlying markets that cannot be reflected in the options markets. The purchase of options is a highly specialized activity that involves investment techniques and risks different from those associated with ordinary portfolio securities transactions. The purchase of stock index options involves the risk that the premium and transaction costs paid by the Funds in purchasing an option will be lost as a result of unanticipated movements in prices of the securities comprising the stock index on which the option is based.
There is no assurance that a liquid secondary market on an options exchange will exist for any particular option, or at any particular time, and for some options no secondary market on an exchange or elsewhere may exist. If the Funds are unable to close out a call option on securities that it has written before the option is exercised, the Funds may be required to purchase the optioned securities in order to satisfy its obligation under the option to deliver such securities. If the Funds are unable to effect a closing sale transaction with respect to options on securities that it has purchased, it would have to exercise the option in order to realize any profit and would incur transaction costs upon the purchase and sale of the underlying securities.
Cover for Options Positions.
Transactions using options (other than options that each Fund has purchased) expose the Funds to an obligation to another party. The Funds will not enter into any such transactions unless it owns either (i) an offsetting ("covered") position in securities or other options or (ii) cash or liquid securities with a value sufficient at all times to cover its potential obligations not covered as provided in (i) above. The Funds will comply with SEC guidelines regarding cover for these instruments and, if the guidelines so require, set aside cash or liquid securities in a segregated account with the Funds' custodian in the prescribed amount. Under current SEC guidelines, each Fund will segregate assets to cover transactions in which the Fund writes or sells options.
Assets used as cover or held in a segregated account cannot be sold while the position in the corresponding option is open, unless they are replaced with similar assets. As a result, the commitment of a large portion of the Funds’ assets to cover or segregated accounts could impede portfolio management or the Funds’ ability to meet redemption requests or other current obligations.
Options on Futures Contracts
The Funds may purchase and sell options on the same types of futures in which it may invest. Options on futures are similar to options on underlying instruments except that options on futures give the purchaser the right, in return for the premium paid, to assume a position in a futures contract (a long position if the option is a call and a short position if the option is a put), rather than to purchase or sell the futures contract, at a specified exercise price at any time during the period of the option. Upon exercise of the option, the delivery of the futures position by the writer of the option to the holder of the option will be accompanied by the delivery of the accumulated balance in the writer's futures margin account which represents the amount by which the market price of the futures contract, at exercise, exceeds (in the case of a call) or is less than (in the case of a put) the exercise price of the option on the futures contract. Purchasers of options who fail to exercise their options prior to the exercise date suffer a loss of the premium paid.
The Funds may engage in transactions involving dealer options as well as exchange-traded options. Certain additional risks are specific to dealer options. While each Fund might look to a clearing corporation to exercise exchange-traded options, if a Fund were to purchase a dealer option, it would need to rely on the dealer from which it purchased the option to perform if the option were exercised. Failure by the dealer to do so would result in the loss of the premium paid by the Funds as well as loss of the expected benefit of the transaction.
Exchange-traded options generally have a continuous liquid market while dealer options may not. Consequently, each Fund may generally be able to realize the value of a dealer option it has purchased only by exercising or reselling the option to the dealer who issued it. Similarly, when each Fund writes a dealer option, it may generally be able to close out the option prior to its expiration only by entering into a closing purchase transaction with the dealer to whom each Fund originally wrote the option. While each Fund will seek to enter into dealer options only with dealers who will agree to and which are expected to be capable of entering into closing transactions with each Fund, there can be no assurance that each Fund will at any time be able to liquidate a dealer option at a favorable price at any time prior to expiration. Unless each Fund, as a covered dealer call option writer, is able to effect a closing purchase transaction, it will not be able to liquidate securities (or other assets) used as cover until the option expires or is exercised. In the event of insolvency of the other party, each Fund may be unable to liquidate a dealer option. With respect to options written by each Fund, the inability to enter into a closing transaction may result in material losses to each Fund. For example, because each Fund must maintain a secured position with respect to any call option on a security it writes, each Fund may not sell the assets, which it has segregated to secure the position while it is obligated under the option. This requirement may impair the Fund's ability to sell portfolio securities at a time when such sale might be advantageous.
The Staff of the SEC has taken the position that purchased dealer options are illiquid securities. Each Fund may treat the cover used for written dealer options as liquid if the dealer agrees that the Funds may repurchase the dealer option it has written for a maximum price to be calculated by a predetermined formula. In such cases, the dealer option would be considered illiquid only to the extent the maximum purchase price under the formula exceeds the intrinsic value of the option. Accordingly, each Fund will treat dealer options as subject to the Funds' limitation on illiquid securities. If the SEC changes its position on the liquidity of dealer options, each Fund will change its treatment of such instruments accordingly.
A futures contract provides for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified amount of a specific financial instrument (e.g., units of a stock index) for a specified price, date, time and place designated at the time the contract is made. Brokerage fees are paid when a futures contract is bought or sold and margin deposits must be maintained. Entering into a contract to buy is commonly referred to as buying or purchasing a contract or holding a long position. Entering into a contract to sell is commonly referred to as selling a contract or holding a short position.
Unlike when each Fund purchases or sells a security, no price would be paid or received by the Funds upon the purchase or sale of a futures contract. Upon entering into a futures contract, and to maintain the Funds’ open positions in futures contracts, each Fund would be required to deposit with its custodian or futures broker in a segregated account in the name of the futures broker an amount of cash, U.S. government securities, suitable money market instruments, or other liquid securities, known as "initial margin." The margin required for a particular futures contract is set by the exchange on which
the contract is traded, and may be significantly modified from time to time by the exchange during the term of the contract. Futures contracts are customarily purchased and sold on margins that may range upward from less than 5% of the value of the contract being traded.
If the price of an open futures contract changes (by increase in underlying instrument or index in the case of a sale or by decrease in the case of a purchase) so that the loss on the futures contract reaches a point at which the margin on deposit does not satisfy margin requirements, the broker will require an increase in the margin. However, if the value of a position increases because of favorable price changes in the futures contract so that the margin deposit exceeds the required margin, the broker will pay the excess to each Fund.
These subsequent payments, called "variation margin," to and from the futures broker, are made on a daily basis as the price of the underlying assets fluctuate making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as "marking to the market." Each Fund expects to earn interest income on its margin deposits.
Although certain futures contracts, by their terms, require actual future delivery of and payment for the underlying instruments, in practice most futures contracts are usually closed out before the delivery date. Closing out an open futures contract purchase or sale is effected by entering into an offsetting futures contract sale or purchase, respectively, for the same aggregate amount of the identical underlying instrument or index and the same delivery date. If the offsetting purchase price is less than the original sale price, the Funds realize a gain; if it is more, the Funds realize a loss. Conversely, if the offsetting sale price is more than the original purchase price, the Funds realize a gain; if it is less, the Funds realize a loss. The transaction costs must also be included in these calculations. There can be no assurance, however, that each Fund will be able to enter into an offsetting transaction with respect to a particular futures contract at a particular time. If the Funds are not able to enter into an offsetting transaction, the Funds will continue to be required to maintain the margin deposits on the futures contract.
The Funds may enter into swap agreements for purposes of attempting to gain exposure to equity, debt, commodities or other asset markets without actually purchasing those assets, or to hedge a position. Swap agreements are two-party contracts entered into primarily by institutional investors for periods ranging from a day to more than one year. In a standard "swap" transaction, two parties agree to exchange the returns (or differentials in rates of return) earned or realized on particular predetermined investments or instruments. The gross returns to be exchanged or "swapped" between the parties are calculated with respect to a "notional amount," i.e., the return on or increase in value of a particular dollar amount invested in a "basket" of securities representing a particular index.
Most swap agreements entered into by the Funds calculate the obligations of the parties to the agreement on a "net basis." Consequently, the Funds' current obligations (or rights) under a swap agreement will generally be equal only to the net amount to be paid or received under the agreement based on the relative values of the positions held by each party to the agreement (the "net amount"). Payments may be made at the conclusion of a swap agreement or periodically during its term.
Swap agreements do not involve the delivery of securities or other underlying assets. Accordingly, if a swap is entered into on a net basis, if the other party to a swap agreement defaults, the Funds’ risk of loss consists of the net amount of payments that the Funds are contractually entitled to receive, if any.
The net amount of the excess, if any, of the Funds' obligations over their entitlements with respect to a swap agreement entered into on a net basis will be accrued daily and an amount of cash or liquid asset having an aggregate NAV at least equal to the accrued excess will be maintained in an account with the Custodian (as defined under the section entitled “Custodian”). The Funds will also establish and maintain such accounts with respect to their total obligations under any swaps that are not entered into on a net basis. Obligations under swap agreements so covered will not be construed to be "senior securities" for purposes of the Funds' investment restriction concerning senior securities.
Because they are two-party contracts and because they may have terms of greater than seven days, swap agreements may be considered to be illiquid for the Funds’ illiquid investment limitations. The Funds will not enter into any swap agreement unless the Adviser believes that the other party to the transaction is creditworthy. The Funds bear the risk of loss of the amount expected to be received under a swap agreement in the event of the default or bankruptcy of a swap agreement counter-party.
The Funds may enter into a swap agreement in circumstances where the Adviser believes that it may be more cost effective or practical than buying the securities represented by such index or a futures contract or an option on such index. The counter-party to any swap agreement will typically be a bank, investment banking firm or broker/dealer. The counter-party will generally agree to pay the Funds the amount, if any, by which the notional amount of the swap agreement would have increased in value had it been invested in the particular stocks represented in the index, plus the dividends that would have been received on those stocks. The Funds will agree to pay to the counter-party a floating rate of interest on the notional amount of the swap agreement plus the amount, if any, by which the notional amount would have decreased in value had it been invested in such stocks. Therefore, the return to the Funds on any swap agreement should be the gain or loss on the notional amount plus dividends on the stocks less the interest paid by the Funds on the notional amount.
The swap market has grown substantially in recent years with a large number of banks and investment banking firms acting both as principals and as agents utilizing standardized swap documentation. As a result, the swap market has become relatively liquid in comparison with the markets for other similar instruments that are traded in the OTC market.
Regulation as a Commodity Pool Operator
The Adviser, on behalf of the Funds, has filed with the National Futures Association, a notice claiming an exclusion from the definition of the term "commodity pool operator" under the Commodity Exchange Act, as amended, and the rules of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) promulgated thereunder, with respect to the Funds' operations. Accordingly, the Funds are not currently subject to registration or regulation as commodity pool operators.
When-Issued, Forward Commitments and Delayed Settlements
The Funds may purchase and sell securities on a when-issued, forward commitment or delayed settlement basis. In this event, the Custodian will segregate liquid assets equal to the amount of the commitment in a separate account. Normally, the Custodian will set aside portfolio securities to satisfy a purchase commitment. In such a case, the Funds may be required subsequently to segregate additional assets in order to assure that the value of the account remains equal to the amount of the Funds’ commitments. It may be expected that the Funds’ net assets will fluctuate to a greater degree when it sets aside portfolio securities to cover such purchase commitments than when it sets aside cash.
The Funds do not intend to engage in these transactions for speculative purposes but only in furtherance of their investment objectives. Because the Funds will segregate liquid assets to satisfy its purchase commitments in the manner described, the Funds’ liquidity and the ability of the Adviser to manage them may be affected in the event the Funds’ forward commitments, commitments to purchase when-issued securities and delayed settlements ever exceeded 15% of the value of its net assets.
The Funds purchase securities on a when-issued, forward commitment or delayed settlement basis only with the intention of completing the transaction. If deemed advisable as a matter of investment strategy, however, the Funds may dispose of or renegotiate a commitment after it is entered into, and may sell securities it has committed to purchase before those securities are delivered to the Funds on the settlement date. In these cases, the Funds may realize a taxable capital gain or loss. When the Funds engage in when-issued, forward commitment and delayed settlement transactions, it relies on the other party to consummate the trade. Failure of such party to do so may result in the Funds incurring a loss or missing an opportunity to obtain a price credited to be advantageous.
The market value of the securities underlying a when-issued purchase, forward commitment to purchase securities, or a delayed settlement and any subsequent fluctuations in their market value is taken into account when determining the market value of the Funds starting on the day each Fund agrees to purchase the securities. Each Fund does not earn interest on the securities it has committed to purchase until it has paid for and delivered on the settlement date.
Illiquid and Restricted Securities
The Funds may invest up to 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. Illiquid investments include securities subject to contractual or legal restrictions on resale (e.g., because they have not been registered under the Securities Act and securities that are otherwise not readily marketable (e.g., because trading in the security is suspended or because market makers do not exist or will not entertain bids or offers). Securities that have not been registered under the Securities Act are referred to as private placements or restricted securities and are purchased directly from the issuer or in the secondary market. Foreign securities that are freely tradable in their principal markets are not considered to be illiquid.
Restricted securities and other illiquid investments may be subject to the potential for delays on resale and uncertainty in valuation. The Funds might be unable to dispose of illiquid investments promptly or at reasonable prices and might thereby experience difficulty in satisfying redemption requests from shareholders. The Funds might have to register restricted securities in order to dispose of them, resulting in additional expense and delay. Adverse market conditions could impede such a public offering of securities.
A large institutional market exists for certain securities that are not registered under the Securities Act, including foreign securities. The fact that there are contractual or legal restrictions on resale to the general public or to certain institutions may not be indicative of the liquidity of such investments. Rule 144A under the Securities Act allows such a broader institutional trading market for securities otherwise subject to restrictions on resale to the general public. Rule 144A establishes a "safe harbor" from the registration requirements of the Securities Act for resale of certain securities to qualified institutional buyers. Rule 144A has produced enhanced liquidity for many restricted securities, and market liquidity for such securities may continue to expand as a result of this regulation and the consequent existence of the PORTAL system, which is an automated system for the trading, clearance and settlement of unregistered securities of domestic and foreign issuers sponsored by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. ("FINRA").
Under guidelines adopted by the Board, the Adviser may determine that particular Rule 144A securities, and commercial paper issued in reliance on the private placement exemption from registration afforded by Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act, are liquid even though they are not registered. A determination of whether such a security is liquid or not is a question of fact. In making this determination, the Adviser considers, as it deems appropriate under the circumstances and among other factors: (1) the frequency of trades and quotes for the security; (2) the number of dealers willing to purchase or sell the security; (3) the number of other potential purchasers of the security; (4) dealer undertakings to make a market in the security; (5) the nature of the security (e.g., debt or equity, date of maturity, terms of dividend or interest payments, and other material terms) and the nature of the marketplace trades (e.g., the time needed to dispose of the security, the method of soliciting offers, and the mechanics of transfer); and (6) the rating of the security and the financial condition and prospects of the issuer. In the case of commercial paper, the Adviser also determines that the paper (1) is not traded flat or in default as to principal and interest, and (2) is rated in one of the two highest rating categories by at least two nationally recognized statistical rating organizations ("NRSROs") or, if only one NRSRO rates the security, by that NRSRO, or, if the security is unrated, the Adviser determines that it is of equivalent quality.
Rule 144A securities and Section 4(a)(2) commercial paper that have been deemed liquid as described above will continue to be monitored by the Adviser to determine if the security is no longer liquid as the result of changed conditions. Investing in Rule 144A securities or Section 4(a)(2) commercial paper could have the effect of increasing the amount of a Fund's assets invested in illiquid securities if institutional buyers are unwilling to purchase such securities.
Lending Portfolio Securities
For the purpose of achieving income, the Funds may lend their portfolio securities, provided (1) the loan is secured continuously by collateral consisting of U.S. government securities or cash or cash equivalents (cash, U.S. government securities, negotiable certificates of deposit, bankers' acceptances or letters of credit) maintained on a daily mark-to-market basis in an amount at least equal to the current market value of the securities loaned, (2) the Funds may at any time call the loan and obtain the return of securities loaned, (3) the Funds will receive any interest or dividends received on the loaned securities, and (4) the aggregate value of the securities loaned will not at any time exceed one-third of the total assets of the Funds. If the Funds lend portfolio securities, the Funds may lose money if the collateral securing the loan is insufficient to cover the full value of the loaned security due to a large increase in price of the loaned security in a single day and the borrower also defaults on the same day.
Short Sales (excluding Short Sales “Against the Box”). The Funds may sell securities short. A short sale is a transaction in which a Fund sells securities it does not own in anticipation of a decline in the market price of the securities.
To deliver the securities to the buyer, the Funds must arrange through a broker to borrow the securities and, in so doing, the Funds become obligated to replace the securities borrowed at their market price at the time of replacement, whatever that price may be. The Funds will make a profit or incur a loss as a result of a short sale depending on whether the price of the securities decreases or increases between the date of the short sale and the date on which the Funds purchase the security to replace the borrowed securities that have been sold. The amount of any loss would be increased (and any gain decreased) by any premium or interest a Fund is required to pay in connection with a short sale.
Each Fund’s obligation to replace the securities borrowed in connection with a short sale will be secured by cash or liquid securities deposited as collateral with the broker. In addition, the Funds will place in a segregated account with its custodian or a qualified sub-custodian an amount of cash or liquid securities equal to the difference, if any, between (i) the market value of the securities sold at the time they were sold short and (ii) any cash or liquid securities deposited as collateral with the broker in connection with the short sale (not including the proceeds of the short sale). Until it replaces the borrowed securities, each Fund will maintain the segregated account daily at a level so that (a) the amount deposited in the account plus the amount deposited with the broker (not including the proceeds from the short sale) will equal the current market value of the securities sold short and (b) the amount deposited in the account plus the amount deposited with the broker (not including the proceeds from the short sale) will not be less than the market value of the securities at the time they were sold short.
Short Sales “Against the Box.” The Funds may engage in short sales “against the box.” In a short sale, the Funds sell a borrowed security and has a corresponding obligation to the lender to return the identical security. The seller does not immediately deliver the securities sold and is said to have a short position in those securities until delivery occurs. The Funds may engage in a short sale if at the time of the short sale the Funds own or has the right to obtain without additional cost an equal amount of the security being sold short. This investment technique is known as a short sale “against the box.” It may be entered into by the Funds to, for example, lock in a sale price for a security a Fund does not wish to sell immediately. If the Funds engage in a short sale, the collateral for the short position will be segregated in an account with each Fund’s custodian or qualified sub-custodian. No more than 10% of
a Fund’s net assets (taken at current value) may be held as collateral for short sales against the box at any one time.
The Funds may make a short sale as a hedge, when it believes that the price of a security may decline, causing a decline in the value of a security owned by a Fund (or a security convertible or exchangeable for such security). In such case, any future losses in a Fund’s long position should be offset by a gain in the short position and, conversely, any gain in the long position should be reduced by a loss in the short position. The extent to which such gains or losses are reduced will depend upon the amount of the security sold short relative to the amount the Funds own. There will be certain additional transaction costs associated with short sales “against the box,” but the Funds will endeavor to offset these costs with the income from the investment of the cash proceeds of short sales.
If the Funds effect a short sale of securities at a time when it has an unrealized gain on the securities, it may be required to recognize that gain as if it had actually sold the securities (as a “constructive sale”) on the date it effects the short sale. However, such constructive sale treatment may not apply if the Funds close out the short sale with securities other than the appreciated securities held at the time of the short sale and if certain other conditions are satisfied. Uncertainty regarding the tax consequences of effecting short sales may limit the extent to which the Funds may effect short sales.
The Funds may engage in a high level of trading in seeking to achieve its investment objectives. The portfolio turnover rate for each Fund is calculated by dividing the lesser of the purchases or sales of portfolio investments for the reporting period by the monthly average value of the portfolio investments owned during the reporting period. A 100% portfolio turnover rate results, for example, if the equivalents of all the securities in the Funds’ portfolios are replaced in a one-year period. The calculation excludes all securities, including options, whose maturities or expiration dates at the time of acquisition are one year or less. Portfolio turnover may vary greatly from year to year as well as within a particular year and may be affected by cash requirements for redemption or shares. The Funds are not restricted by policy with regard to portfolio turnover and will make changes in its investment portfolio from time to time as business and economic conditions as well as market prices may dictate.
The following table displays the portfolio turnover rates for the Funds for the fiscal years ended June 30th as shown below:
|Fund||Portfolio Turnover Rates|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||2%||49%|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||23%||107%|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||5%||128%|
The Funds’ increase in portfolio turnover over the past fiscal year was due to market volatility.
The Funds have adopted the following investment restrictions that may not be changed without approval by a "majority of the outstanding shares" of the Funds which, as used in this SAI, means the vote of the lesser of (a) 67% or more of the shares of the Funds represented at a meeting, if the holders of more than 50% of the outstanding shares of the Funds are present or represented by proxy, or (b) more than 50% of the outstanding shares of the Funds. The Funds may not:
|1.||Issue senior securities. This limitation is not applicable to activities that may be deemed to involve the issuance or sale of a senior security by the Funds, provided that the Funds' engagement in such activities is consistent with or permitted by the 1940 Act, as amended, the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder or interpretations of the SEC or its staff;|
|2.||Borrow money, except (a) from a bank, provided that immediately after such borrowing there is an asset coverage of 300% for all borrowings of the Funds; or (b) from a bank or other persons for temporary purposes only, provided that such temporary borrowings are in an amount not exceeding 5% of the Funds' total assets at the time when the borrowing is made. This limitation does not preclude the Funds from entering into reverse repurchase transactions, provided that each Fund has an asset coverage of 300% for all borrowings and repurchase commitments of the Funds pursuant to reverse repurchase transactions;|
|3.||Purchase securities on margin, participate on a joint or joint and several basis in any securities trading account, or underwrite securities. This limitation does not preclude the Funds from obtaining such short-term credit as may be necessary for the clearance of purchases and sales of its portfolio securities, and except to the extent that the Funds may be deemed an underwriter under the Securities Act, by virtue of disposing of portfolio securities;|
|4.||Purchase or sell real estate or interests in real estate. This limitation is not applicable to investments in marketable securities that are secured by or represent interests in real estate does not preclude the Funds from investing in mortgage-related securities or investing in companies engaged in the real estate business or that have a significant portion of their assets in real estate (including REITs);|
|5.||Invest 25% or more of the market value of its assets in the securities of companies engaged in any one industry. This limitation does not apply to investment in the securities of the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities;|
|6.||Purchase or sell commodities (unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other investments or through commodity forward contracts, futures contracts or options), except that the Funds may purchase and sell forward and futures contracts and options to the full extent permitted under the 1940 Act, sell foreign currency contracts in accordance with any rules of the CFTC, invest in securities or other instruments backed by commodities, and invest in companies that are engaged in a commodities business or have a significant portion of their assets in commodities; or|
|7.||Make loans to others, except (a) through the purchase of debt securities in accordance with its investment objectives and policies, (b) to the extent the entry into a repurchase agreement is deemed to be a loan, and (c) by loaning portfolio securities.|
With respect to interpretations of the SEC or its staff described in paragraph number 1 above, the SEC and its staff have identified various securities trading practices and derivative instruments used by mutual funds that give rise to potential senior security issues under Section 18(f) of the 1940 Act. However, rather than rigidly deeming all such practices as impermissible forms of issuing a "senior security" under Section 18(f), the SEC and its staff through interpretive releases, including Investment Company Act Release No. 10666 (April 18, 1979), and no-action letters has developed an evolving series of methods by which a fund may address senior security issues. Thus, a potential Section 18(f) senior security limitation is not applicable to activities that might be deemed to involve a form of the issuance or sale of a senior security by the Funds, provided that the Funds’ engagement in such activities is consistent with or permitted by Section 18 of the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder or interpretations of the SEC or its staff.
The Funds observe the following policies, which are not deemed fundamental and which may be changed without shareholder vote. The Funds may not:
|1.||Invest in any issuer for purposes of exercising control or management;|
|2.||Invest in securities of other investment companies except as permitted under the 1940 Act;|
|3.||Invest, in the aggregate, more than 15% of its net assets, measured at time of purchase, in securities with legal or contractual restrictions on resale, securities, which are not readily marketable and repurchase agreements with more than seven days to maturity; or|
|4.||Mortgage, pledge, hypothecate or in any manner transfer, as security for indebtedness, any assets of the Funds except as may be necessary in connection with borrowings described in limitation (2) above. Margin deposits, security interests, liens and collateral arrangements with respect to transactions involving options, futures contracts, short sales and other permitted investments and techniques are not deemed to be a mortgage, pledge or hypothecation of assets for purposes of this limitation.|
If a restriction on the Funds' investments is adhered to at the time an investment is made, a subsequent change in the percentage of Funds' assets invested in certain securities or other instruments, or change in average duration of the Funds' investment portfolio, resulting from changes in the value of the Funds' total assets, will not be considered a violation of the restriction; provided, however, that the asset coverage requirement applicable to borrowings shall be maintained in the manner contemplated by applicable law.
With respect to the fundamental investment restriction regarding concentration, the Funds consider the concentration of any underlying funds in which it invests when determining whether each Fund has complied with its concentration policy.
The Adviser. Howard Capital Management, Inc., 1145 Hembree Road, Roswell GA 30076, serves as investment adviser to the Funds. Subject to the oversight of the Board, the Adviser is responsible for management of each Fund's investment portfolio. The Adviser is responsible for selecting the Funds' investments according to the Funds’ investment objectives, policies and restrictions. The Adviser was established in 1999 to provide develop and implement various proprietary trading systems. As of June 30, 2022, it had approximately $4.5 billion in assets under management. The Adviser is controlled by Vance Howard, who is the portfolio manager of the Funds, due to his 95% ownership of the Adviser.
Pursuant to an Investment Advisory Agreement, each Fund pays the Adviser, on a monthly basis, an annual advisory fee. The following table sets forth the annual management fee rate payable by each Fund to the Adviser pursuant to the Advisory Agreement, expressed as a percentage of the relevant Fund’s average daily net assets:
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||1.25%|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||1.25%|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||0.95%|
The Advisory Agreement continued in effect for two (2) years initially and shall continue from year to year provided such continuance is approved at least annually by (a) a vote of the majority of the Independent Trustees, cast in person at a meeting specifically called for the purpose of voting on such approval and by (b) the majority vote of either the Board or the vote of a majority of the outstanding shares of the Fund. The Advisory Agreement may be terminated without penalty with 60 days’ written notice by a vote of a majority of the Board, by the Adviser, or by holders of a majority of that Trust's outstanding shares. The Advisory Agreement shall terminate automatically in the event of their assignment. The Advisory Agreement was last renewed by the Board at a meeting held on February 23-24, 2022.
The table below provides information about the advisory fees earned by the Adviser and paid by the Funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022.
by the Adviser
Advisory Fees Waived
|Net Fees Earned by the Adviser||Fund Expenses Reimbursed by the Adviser||Amount Subject to Recapture|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||1.25%||$15,343,354||$0||$15,343,354||$0||None|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||1.25%||$14,085,337||$0||$14,085,337||$0||None|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||0.95%||$6,344,202||$0||$6,344,202||$0||None|
The table below provides information about the advisory fees earned by the Adviser and paid by the Funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021.
by the Adviser
Advisory Fees Waived
|Net Fees Earned by the Adviser||Fund Expenses Reimbursed by the Adviser||Amount Subject to Recapture|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||1.25%||$8,157,368||$0||$8,157,368||$0||None|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||1.25%||$6,360,611||$0||$6,360,611||$0||None|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||0.95%||$3,317,656||$0||$3,317,656||$0||None|
The table below provides information about the advisory fees earned by the Adviser and paid by the Funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020.
by the Adviser
Advisory Fees Waived
|Net Fees Earned by the Adviser||Fund Expenses Reimbursed by the Adviser||Amount Subject to Recapture|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||1.25%||$4,881,203||$0||$4,881,203||$0||None|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||1.25%||$2,923,149||$0||$2,923,149||$0||None|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||0.95%||$1,662,906||$0||$1,662,906||$0||None|
Portfolio Manager. As described in the Prospectus, the portfolio manager listed below is responsible for the management of the Funds and, as of June 30, 2022, the other accounts set forth in the following tables.
|Other Registered Investment Companies||Other Pooled Investment Vehicles||Other Accounts|
|Vance Howard||10||$1.5 Billion||1||$969 Thousand||5||$649 Million|
Of the accounts above, none are subject to performance-based fees.
Conflicts of Interest.
As indicated in the table above, the portfolio manager may manage numerous accounts for multiple clients. These accounts may include registered investment companies, other types of pooled accounts (e.g., collective investment funds), and separate accounts (i.e., accounts managed on behalf of individuals or public or private institutions). The portfolio manager makes investment decisions for each account based on the investment objectives and policies and other relevant investment considerations applicable to that portfolio.
When the portfolio manager has responsibility for managing more than one account, potential conflicts of interest may arise. Those conflicts could include preferential treatment of one account over others in terms of allocation of resources or of investment opportunities. For instance, the Adviser may receive fees from certain accounts that are higher than the fee it receives from the Funds. In this instance, the portfolio manager may have an incentive to favor the higher account over such Funds. The Adviser has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential material conflicts. For instance, the portfolio manager is normally responsible for all accounts within a certain investment discipline, and do not, absent special circumstances, differentiate among the various accounts when allocating resources. Additionally, the Adviser utilizes a system for allocating investment opportunities among portfolios that is designed to provide a fair and equitable allocation.
Mr. Howard does not receive a salary or bonus from the Adviser. However, he participates in the profits of the Adviser due to his 100% ownership of the Adviser.
Ownership of Securities.
As of June 30, 2022, Mr. Howard beneficially owned the following amounts in the Funds:
Dollar Range of Shares Beneficially Owned
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||Over $1,000,000|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||Over $1,000,000|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||$10,001 - $50,000|
ALLOCATION OF BROKERAGE
Subject to the general supervision of the Board, the Adviser is responsible for making decisions with respect to the purchase and sale of portfolio securities on behalf of the Funds. The Adviser is also responsible for the implementation of those decisions, including the selection of broker-dealers to effect portfolio transactions, the negotiation of commissions, and the allocation of principal business and portfolio brokerage.
In purchasing and selling the Funds’ portfolio securities, it is the Adviser’s policy to obtain quality execution at the most favorable prices through responsible broker-dealers and, in the case of agency transactions, at competitive commission rates where such rates are negotiable. However, under certain conditions, the Funds may pay higher brokerage commissions in return for brokerage and research services. In selecting broker-dealers to execute the Funds’ portfolio transactions, consideration is given to such factors as the price of the security, the rate of the commission, the size and difficulty of the order, the reliability, integrity, financial condition, general execution and operational capabilities of competing brokers and dealers, their expertise in particular markets and the brokerage and research services they provide to the Adviser or the Funds. It is not the policy of the Adviser to seek the lowest available commission rate where it is believed that a broker or dealer charging a higher commission rate would offer greater reliability or provide better price or execution.
Transactions on stock exchanges involve the payment of brokerage commissions. In transactions on stock exchanges in the United States, these commissions are negotiated. Traditionally, commission rates have generally not been negotiated on stock markets outside the United States. In recent years, however, an increasing number of overseas stock markets have adopted a system of negotiated rates, although a number of markets continue to be subject to an established schedule of minimum commission rates. It is expected that equity securities will ordinarily be purchased in the primary markets, whether over-the-counter or listed, and that listed securities may be purchased in the over-the-counter market if such market is deemed the primary market. In the case of securities traded on the over-the-counter markets, there is generally no stated commission, but the price usually includes an undisclosed commission or markup. In underwritten offerings, the price includes a disclosed, fixed commission or discount.
For fixed income securities, it is expected that purchases and sales will ordinarily be transacted with the issuer, the issuer’s underwriter, or with a primary market maker acting as principal on a net basis, with no brokerage commission being paid by the Funds. However, the price of the securities generally includes compensation, which is not disclosed separately. Transactions placed through dealers who are serving as primary market makers reflect the spread between the bid and asked prices.
With respect to equity and fixed income securities, the Adviser may effect principal transactions on behalf of the Funds with a broker or dealer who furnishes brokerage and/or research services, designate any such broker or dealer to receive selling concessions, discounts or other allowances or otherwise deal with any such broker or dealer in connection with the acquisition of securities in underwritings. The prices each Fund pays to underwriters of newly-issued securities usually include a concession paid by the issuer to the underwriter. The Adviser may receive research services in connection with brokerage transactions, including designations in fixed price offerings.
The Adviser receives a wide range of research services from brokers and dealers covering investment opportunities throughout the world, including information on the economies, industries, groups of securities, individual companies, statistics, political developments, technical market action,
pricing and appraisal services, and performance analyses of all the countries in which the Funds’ portfolios are likely to be invested. The Adviser cannot readily determine the extent to which commissions charged by brokers reflect the value of their research services, but brokers occasionally suggest a level of business they would like to receive in return for the brokerage and research services they provide. To the extent that research services of value are provided by brokers, the Adviser may be relieved of expenses, which it might otherwise bear. In some cases, research services are generated by third parties but are provided to the Adviser by or through brokers.
Certain broker-dealers, which provide quality execution services, also furnish research services to the Adviser. The Adviser has adopted brokerage allocation policies embodying the concepts of Section 28(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which permits an investment adviser to cause its clients to pay a broker which furnishes brokerage or research services a higher commission than that which might be charged by another broker which does not furnish brokerage or research services, or which furnishes brokerage or research services deemed to be of lesser value, if such commission is deemed reasonable in relation to the brokerage and research services provided by the broker, viewed in terms of either that particular transaction or the overall responsibilities of the Adviser with respect to the accounts as to which it exercises investment discretion. Accordingly, the Adviser may assess the reasonableness of commissions in light of the total brokerage and research services provided by each particular broker.
Portfolio securities will not be purchased from or sold to the Adviser, or the Distributor (as defined below), or any affiliated person of any of them acting as principal, except to the extent permitted by rule or order of the SEC.
The table below provides information about the brokerage fees incurred by the Funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022:
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||$250,552|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||$299,543|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||$177,303|
*Increase in Brokerage fees incurred by the Funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022 was due to higher portfolio turnover.
The table below provides information about the brokerage fees incurred by the Funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021:
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||$34,952*|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||$70,417|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||$23,760*|
*Decrease in Brokerage fees incurred by the Funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021 was due to lower portfolio turnover.
The table below provides information about the brokerage fees incurred by the Funds for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020:
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||$139,765|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||$57,498|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||$127,563|
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR DISCLOSURE OF PORTFOLIO HOLDINGS
The Trust has adopted policies and procedures that govern the disclosure of the Funds' portfolio holdings. These policies and procedures are designed to ensure that such disclosure is in the best interests of Fund shareholders.
It is the Trust's policy to: (1) ensure that any disclosure of portfolio holdings information is in the best interest of Trust shareholders; (2) protect the confidentiality of portfolio holdings information; (3) have procedures in place to guard against personal trading based on the information; and (4) ensure that the disclosure of portfolio holdings information does not create conflicts between the interests of the Trust's shareholders and those of the Trust's affiliates.
Each Fund discloses its portfolio holdings by mailing the annual and semi-annual reports to shareholders approximately two months after the end of the fiscal year and semi-annual period. In addition, the Funds disclose its portfolio holdings reports on Forms N-CSR two months after the end of each quarter/semi-annual period and Form N-PORT 30 days after the end of each calendar quarter.
The Funds’ portfolio holdings as of the end of each calendar month are posted on the Funds’ website, http://www.howardcmfunds.com no later than thirty days after the end of each month. This posted information generally remains accessible until the Funds post the information for the next calendar month to the Funds’ website. The Funds may choose to post their portfolio holdings on a more frequent basis, especially during periods of high market volatility. These off-cycle disclosures will be replaced with the normal monthly release when available.
The Funds may choose to make portfolio holdings information available to rating agencies such as Lipper, Morningstar or Bloomberg earlier and more frequently on a confidential basis.
Under limited circumstances, as described below, the Fund's portfolio holdings may be disclosed to, or known by, certain third parties in advance of their filing with the SEC on Form N-CSR or Form N-PORT. In each case, a determination has been made by the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer that such advance disclosure is supported by a legitimate business purpose of the Funds and that the recipient is subject to a duty to keep the information confidential, including a duty not to trade on the information.
Howard Capital Management, Inc. Personnel of the Adviser, including personnel responsible for managing each Fund’s portfolio, may have full daily access to the Funds’ portfolio holdings since that information is necessary in order for them to provide management, administrative, and investment services to the Funds. As required for purposes of analyzing the impact of existing and future market changes on the prices, availability, demand and liquidity of such securities, as well as for the assistance of portfolio manager in the trading of such securities, Adviser personnel may also release and discuss certain portfolio holdings with various broker-dealers.
Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC. Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC is the transfer agent, fund accountant, administrator and custody administrator for the Funds; therefore, its personnel have full daily access to the Funds’ portfolio holdings since that information is necessary in order for them to provide the agreed-upon services for the Trust.
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. is custodian for the Funds; therefore, its personnel have full daily access to the Funds' portfolio holdings since that information is necessary in order for them to provide the agreed-upon services for the Trust.
RSM US LLP. RSM US LLP is the Funds' independent registered public accounting firm; therefore, its personnel have access to the Funds' portfolio holdings in connection with auditing of the Funds' annual financial statements and providing other audit, tax and related services to the Funds.
Counsel to the Trust and Counsel to the Independent Trustees. Counsel to the Trust, Counsel to the Independent Trustees and their respective personnel have access to the Funds’ portfolio holdings in connection with the review of the Funds’ annual and semi-annual shareholder reports and SEC filings.
Derivatives Risk Consultant. The Trust has engaged a derivatives risk consultant (“Consultant”) to consult with the Board, and the Adviser regarding the effectiveness of derivatives risk management. The Consultant therefore may have access to the Funds’ portfolio holdings in order to provide such services to the Trust.
Additions to List of Approved Recipients
The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer is the person responsible, and whose prior approval is required, for any disclosure of the Funds' portfolio securities at any time or to any persons other than those described above. In such cases, the recipient must have a legitimate business need for the information in connection with the operation or administration of the Funds, as determined by the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer, and must be subject to a duty to keep the information confidential and not to trade on any material non-public information. There are no ongoing arrangements in place with respect to the disclosure of portfolio holdings. In no event shall the Funds, the Adviser, or any other party receive any direct or indirect compensation in connection with the disclosure of information about the Funds' portfolio holdings.
Compliance With Portfolio Holdings Disclosure Procedures
The Trust's Chief Compliance Officer reports periodically to the Board with respect to compliance with the Funds’ portfolio holdings disclosure procedures, and from time to time provides the Board any updates to the portfolio holdings disclosure policies and procedures.
There is no assurance that the Trust's policies on disclosure of portfolio holdings will protect the Funds from the potential misuse of holdings information by individuals or firms in possession of that information.
OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS
Fund Administration, Fund Accounting and Transfer Agent Services
Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC (the “Administrator” or “UFS”), which has its principal office at 225 Pictoria Drive, Suite 450, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246, serves as administrator, fund accountant and transfer agent for the Funds pursuant to the Funds Services Agreement (the “Agreement”) with the Trust and subject to the oversight of the Board. UFS is primarily in the business of providing administrative, fund accounting and transfer agent services to retail and institutional mutual funds. UFS is an affiliate of the Distributor. UFS may also provide persons to serve as officers of the Funds. Such officers may be directors, officers or employees of UFS or its affiliates.
The Agreement became effective on August 26, 2021 and will remain in effect for two years from the effective date and will continue in effect for successive twelve-month periods provided that such
continuance is specifically approved at least annually by a majority of the Board. The Agreement is terminable by the Board or UFS on 90 days’ written notice and may be assigned by either party, provided that the Trust may not assign this agreement without the prior written consent of UFS. The Agreement provides that UFS shall be without liability for any action reasonably taken or omitted pursuant to the Agreement.
Under the Agreement, UFS performs administrative services, including: (1) monitoring the performance of administrative and professional services rendered to the Trust by others service providers; (2) monitoring Fund holdings and operations for post-trade compliance with the Funds’ registration statement and applicable laws and rules; (3) preparing and coordinating the printing of semi-annual and annual financial statements; (4) preparing selected management reports for performance and compliance analyses; (5) preparing and disseminating materials for and attending and participating in meetings of the Board; (6) determining income and capital gains available for distribution and calculating distributions required to meet regulatory, income, and excise tax requirements; (7) reviewing the Trust’s federal, state, and local tax returns as prepared and signed by the Trust’s independent public accountants; (8) preparing and maintaining the Trust’s operating expense budget to determine proper expense accruals to be charged to each Fund to calculate its daily NAV; (9) assisting in and monitoring the preparation, filing, printing and where applicable, dissemination to shareholders of amendments to the Trust’s Registration Statement on Form N-1A, periodic reports to the Trustees, shareholders and the SEC, notices pursuant to Rule 24f-2, proxy materials and reports to the SEC on Forms N-CEN, N-CSR, N-PORT and N-PX; (10) coordinating the Trust’s audits and examinations by assisting each Fund’s independent public accountants; (11) determining, in consultation with others, the jurisdictions in which shares of the Trust shall be registered or qualified for sale and facilitate such registration or qualification; (12) monitoring sales of shares and ensuring that the shares are properly and duly registered with the SEC; (13) monitoring the calculation of performance data for the Funds; (14) preparing, or causing to be prepared, expense and financial reports; (15) preparing authorization for the payment of Trust expenses and paying, from Trust assets, all bills of the Trust; (16) providing information typically supplied in the investment company industry to companies that track or report price, performance or other information with respect to investment companies; (17) upon request, assisting each Fund in the evaluation and selection of other service providers, such as independent public accountants, printers, EDGAR providers and proxy solicitors (such parties may be affiliates of UFS); and (18) performing other services, recordkeeping and assistance relating to the affairs of the Trust as the Trust may, from time to time, reasonably request.
UFS also provides the Funds’ with accounting services, including: (i) daily computation of NAV; (ii) maintenance of security ledgers and books and records as required by the 1940 Act; (iii) production of the Funds’ listing of portfolio securities and general ledger reports; (iv) reconciliation of accounting records; (v) calculation of yield and total return for the Funds; (vi) maintenance of certain books and records described in Rule 31a-1 under the 1940 Act, and reconciliation of account information and balances among the Funds’ Custodian and Adviser; and (vii) monitoring and evaluation of daily income and expense accruals, and sales and redemptions of shares of the Funds.
UFS also acts as transfer, dividend disbursing, and shareholder servicing agent for the Funds pursuant to the Agreement. Under the Agreement, UFS is responsible for administering and performing transfer agent functions, dividend distribution, shareholder administration, and maintaining necessary records in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.
For the services rendered to each Fund under the Agreement the Funds pay UFS the greater of an annual minimum fee or an asset-based fee, which scales downward based upon net assets. Each Fund also pays UFS for any out-of-pocket expenses.
For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022, the Funds incurred the following fees:
|Fund||For Administration Services||For Fund Accounting Services||For Transfer Agent Services|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||$556,912||$169,395||$331,519|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||$379,823||$152,781||$393,970|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||$227,104||$94,180||$273,197|
For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, the Funds incurred the following fees:
|Fund||For Administration Services||For Fund Accounting Services||For Transfer Agent Services|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||$308,352||$108,823||$164,240|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||$245,612||$82,201||$157,739|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||$173,349||$64,388||$152,796|
For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020, the Funds incurred the following fees:
|Fund||For Administration Services||For Fund Accounting Services||For Transfer Agent Services|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||$233,744||$78,606||$132,250|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||$141,595||$45,661||$87,706|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||$107,544||$40,822||$112,448|
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., 50 Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02110 (the “Custodian”), serves as the custodian of the Funds' assets pursuant to a custody agreement (the "Custody Agreement") by and between the Custodian and the Trust on behalf of the Funds. The Custodian's responsibilities include safeguarding and controlling the Funds' cash and securities, handling the receipt and delivery of securities, and collecting interest and dividends on the Funds’ investments. Pursuant to the Custody Agreement, the Custodian also maintains original entry documents and books of record and general ledgers; posts cash receipts and disbursements; and records purchases and sales based upon communications from the Adviser. The Funds may employ foreign sub-custodians that are approved by the Board to hold foreign assets.
Northern Lights Compliance Services, LLC ("NLCS"), located at 4221 North 203rd Street, Suite 100, Elkhorn, Nebraska 68022, an affiliate of UFS and the Distributor, provides a Chief Compliance Officer to the Trust as well as related compliance services pursuant to a consulting agreement between NLCS and the Trust. NLCS’s compliance services consist primarily of reviewing and assessing the policies and procedures of the Trust and its service providers pertaining to compliance with applicable federal securities laws, including Rule 38a-1 under the 1940 Act. For the compliance services rendered to the Fund, the Fund pays NLCS a one-time fee plus an annual asset-based fee, which scales downward based upon net assets. The Fund also pays NLCS for any out-of-pocket expenses.
INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM
The Board has selected RSM US LLP, located at 555 Seventeenth Street, Suite 1200, Denver, Colorado 80202 as the Funds’ independent registered public accounting firm for the current fiscal year. The firm provides services including the annual audits of the Funds’ financial statements and other audit, tax and related services to the Funds.
Thompson Hine LLP, 41 South High Street, Suite 1700, Columbus, Ohio 43215 serves as the Trust's legal counsel.
Northern Lights Distributors, LLC, located at 4221 North 203rd Street, Suite 100, Elkhorn, Nebraska 68022 (the "Distributor") serves as the principal underwriter and national distributor for the shares of the Funds pursuant to an underwriting agreement with the Trust (the "Underwriting Agreement"). The Distributor is registered as a broker-dealer under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and each state's securities laws and is a member of FINRA. The offering of the Funds' shares is continuous. The Underwriting Agreement provides that the Distributor, as agent in connection with the distribution of Funds shares, will use reasonable efforts to facilitate the sale of the Funds' shares.
The Underwriting Agreement provides that, unless sooner terminated, it will continue in effect for two years initially and thereafter shall continue from year to year, subject to annual approval by (a) the Board or a vote of a majority of the outstanding shares, and (b) by a majority of the Trustees who are not interested persons of the Trust or of the Distributor by vote cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such approval.
The Underwriting Agreement may be terminated by each Fund at any time, without the payment of any penalty, by vote of a majority of the Trust’s entire Board or by vote of a majority of the outstanding shares of the Funds on 60 days’ written notice to the Distributor, or by the Distributor at any time, without the payment of any penalty, on 60 days written notice to the Funds. The Underwriting Agreement will automatically terminate in the event of its assignment.
The following table sets forth the total compensation received by the Distributor from each Fund during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022:
|Fund||Net Underwriting Discounts and Commissions||Compensation on Redemptions and Repurchases||Brokerage Commissions||Other Compensation|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund Class A||$37,183||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund Class I||$0||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund Class R||$0||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund Class A1||$0||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund Investor||$0||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund Class A||$69,573||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund Class C||$0||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund Class R||$0||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Income Plus Fund Class A||$35,569||$0||$0||*|
|HCM Income Plus Fund Investor||$0||$0||$0||*|
|*The Distributor also receives 12b-1 fees from the Funds as described under the following section entitled “Rule 12b-1 Plan”.|
Rule 12b-1 Plan
The Trust, on behalf of each Fund, has adopted the Trust’s Master Distribution and Shareholder Servicing Plan for Class A, A1, and Investor Class shares for the HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund and for Class A and Investor Class shares for the HCM Tactical Growth Fund and HCM Income Plus Fund, pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act (each a “Plan”, and collectively the "Plans") pursuant to which the HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund is authorized to pay the Distributor, as compensation for distributor's account maintenance services under the Plans, a distribution and shareholder servicing fee at the rate of up to 0.25% for Class A shares, up to 0.40% for Class A1 shares and up to 1.00% for Investor Class shares of the Fund's average daily net assets attributable to the relevant class; and the HCM Tactical Growth Fund and HCM Income Plus Fund are each authorized to pay the Distributor, as compensation for distributor's account maintenance services under the Plans, a distribution and shareholder servicing fee at the rate of up to 0.25% for Class A shares and up to 1.00% for Investor Class shares of the Fund's average daily net assets attributable to the relevant class. Such fees are to be paid by each Fund monthly, or at such other intervals as the Board shall determine. Such fees shall be based upon the Fund's average daily net assets during the preceding month and shall be calculated and accrued daily. The Funds may pay fees to the Distributor at a lesser rate, as agreed upon by the Board and the Distributor. The Plans authorize payments to the Distributor as compensation for providing account maintenance services to Fund shareholders, including arranging for certain securities dealers or brokers, administrators, and others ("Recipients") to provide these services and paying compensation for these services. Each Fund will bear its own costs of distribution with respect to its shares. The Funds may make other payments, such as contingent deferred sales charges imposed on
certain redemptions of shares, which are separate and apart from payments made pursuant to the Plans.
The services to be provided by Recipients may include, but are not limited to, the following: assistance in the offering and sale of Fund shares and in other aspects of the marketing of the shares to clients or prospective clients of the respective recipients; answering routine inquiries concerning the Funds; assisting in the establishment and maintenance of accounts or sub-accounts in the Funds and in processing purchase and redemption transactions; making the Fund’s investment plans and shareholder services available; and providing such other information and services to investors in shares of the Funds as the Distributor or the Trust, on behalf of the Funds, may reasonably request. The distribution services shall also include any advertising and marketing services provided by or arranged by the Distributor with respect to the Funds.
The Distributor is required to provide a written report, at least quarterly to the Board, specifying in reasonable detail the amounts expended pursuant to the Plans and the purposes for which such expenditures were made. Further, the Distributor informs the Board of any Rule 12b-1 fees paid by the Distributor to Recipients.
The Plans may not be amended to increase materially the amount of the Distributor's compensation to be paid by the Funds, unless such amendment is approved by the vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the affected class of the applicable Fund (as defined in the 1940 Act). All material amendments must be approved by a majority of the Board by votes cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on a Plan. During the term of the Plans, the selection and nomination of non-interested Trustees of the Trust will be committed to the discretion of current non-interested Trustees. The Distributor will preserve copies of the Plans, any related agreements, and all reports, for a period of not less than six years from the date of such document and for at least the first two years in an easily accessible place.
Any agreement related to the Plans will be in writing and provide that: (a) it may be terminated by the Trust or the applicable Fund at any time upon sixty days' written notice, without the payment of any penalty, by vote of a majority of the Board, or by vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Trust or the Fund; (b) it will automatically terminate in the event of its assignment (as defined in the 1940 Act); and (c) it will continue in effect for a period of more than one year from the date of its execution or adoption only so long as such continuance is specifically approved at least annually by a majority of the Board by votes cast in person at a meeting called for the purpose of voting on such agreement.
During the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022, the HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund, HCM Tactical Growth Fund and HCM Income Plus Fund paid $4,948,398, $4,449,120 and $2,536,627, respectively, respectively, in distribution related fees pursuant to the Plans.
For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022, the Funds paid the following allocated distribution fees:
|Actual 12b-1 Expenditures Paid by|
|Howard Capital Management Shares|
|During the Fiscal Period Ended June 30, 2022|
|HCM TACTICAL GROWTH FUND Class A||HCM TACTICAL GROWTH FUND Class C||HCM DIVIDEND SECTOR PLUS FUND Class A||HCM DIVIDEND SECTOR PLUS FUND Class A1||HCM DIVIDEND SECTOR PLUS FUND Investor||HCM INCOME PLUS FUND Class A||HCM INCOME PLUS FUND Investor|
|Payment to distributor||$8,049||$39,772||$6,694||($0)||$48,928||$5,752||$20,521|
|Payment to dealers||$1,957,801||$606,208||$2,125,812||$25||$683,507||$1,174,728||$353,363|
|Compensation to sales personnel||None||None||None||None||None||None||None|
DESCRIPTION OF SHARES
Each share of beneficial interest of the Trust has one vote in the election of Trustees. Cumulative voting is not authorized for the Trust. This means that the holders of more than 50% of the shares voting for the election of Trustees can elect 100% of the Trustees if they choose to do so, and, in that event, the holders of the remaining shares will be unable to elect any Trustees.
Shareholders of the Trust and any other future series of the Trust will vote in the aggregate and not by series except as otherwise required by law or when the Board determines that the matter to be voted upon affects only the interest of the shareholders of a particular series or classes. Matters such as election of Trustees are not subject to separate voting requirements and may be acted upon by shareholders of the Trust voting without regard to series.
The Trust is authorized to issue an unlimited number of shares of beneficial interest. Each share has equal dividend, distribution and liquidation rights. There are no conversion or preemptive rights applicable to any shares of the Funds. All shares issued are fully paid and non-assessable.
CODE OF ETHICS
The Trust, the Adviser and the Distributor have each adopted codes of ethics under Rule 17j-1 under the 1940 Act that governs the personal securities transactions of their board members, officers and employees who may have access to current trading information of the Trust. Under the code of ethics adopted by the Trust, the Board is permitted to invest in securities that may also be purchased by the Funds.
In addition, the Trust has adopted a code of ethics, which applies only to the Trust's executive officers to ensure that these officers promote professional conduct in the practice of corporate governance and management (the “Code”). The purpose behind these guidelines is to promote (i) honest and ethical conduct, including the ethical handling of actual or apparent conflicts of interest between personal and professional relationships; (ii) full, fair, accurate, timely, and understandable disclosure in reports and documents that a registrant files with, or submits to, the SEC and in other public communications made by the Funds; (iii) compliance with applicable governmental laws, rule
and regulations; (iv) the prompt internal reporting of violations of this Code to an appropriate person or persons identified in the Code; and (v) accountability for adherence to the Code.
PROXY VOTING POLICIES
The Board has adopted Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures ("Policies") on behalf of the Trust, which delegate the responsibility for voting proxies to the Adviser or its designee, subject to the Board's continuing oversight. The Policies require that the Adviser or its designee vote proxies received in a manner consistent with the best interests of the Funds and shareholders. The Policies also require the Adviser or its designee to present to the Board, at least annually, the Adviser's Proxy Policies, or the proxy policies of the Adviser's designee, and a record of each proxy voted by the Adviser or its designee on behalf of the Funds, including a report on the resolution of all proxies identified by the Adviser as involving a conflict of interest.
Where a proxy proposal raises a material conflict between the Adviser's interests and the Funds’ interests, the Adviser will resolve the conflict by voting in accordance with the policy guidelines or at the client's directive using the recommendation of an independent third party. If the third party's recommendations are not received in a timely fashion, the Adviser will abstain from voting the securities held by that client's account. A copy of the Adviser's proxy voting policies is attached hereto as Appendix B.
Information regarding how the Funds voted proxies during the most recent 12-month period ended June 30 is available without charge, upon request, by calling toll free, 1-855-969-8464 and by accessing the information on proxy voting filed by the Funds on Form N-PX on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. In addition, a copy of the Funds’ proxy voting policies and procedures are also available by calling 1-855-969-8464 and will be sent within three business days of receipt of a request.
PURCHASE, REDEMPTION AND PRICING OF FUND SHARES
Calculation of Share Price
As indicated in the Prospectus under the heading "How to Purchase Shares," the NAV of each Fund's shares, by class, is determined by dividing the total value of the Fund's portfolio investments and other assets, less any liabilities, by the total number of shares outstanding of each Fund, by class, respectively.
Generally, the Funds’ domestic securities (including underlying ETFs which hold portfolio securities primarily listed on foreign (non-U.S.) exchanges) are valued each day at the last quoted sales price on each security’s primary exchange. Securities traded or dealt in upon one or more securities exchanges for which market quotations are readily available and not subject to restrictions against resale shall be valued at the last quoted sales price on the primary exchange or, in the absence of a sale on the primary exchange, at the mean between the current bid and ask prices on such exchange. Securities primarily traded in the NASDAQ National Market System for which market quotations are readily available shall be valued using the NASDAQ Official Closing Price. If market quotations are not readily available, securities will be valued at their fair market value as determined in good faith by the Adviser in accordance with procedures approved by the Board and as further described below. Securities that are not traded or dealt in any securities exchange (whether domestic or foreign) and for which over-the-counter market quotations are readily available generally shall be valued at the last sale price or, in the absence of a sale, at the mean between the current bid and ask price on such over-the-counter market.
Certain securities or investments for which daily market quotes are not readily available may be valued, pursuant to guidelines established by the Board, with reference to other securities or indices. Debt securities not traded on an exchange may be valued at prices supplied by a pricing agent(s) based on broker or dealer supplied valuations or matrix pricing, a method of valuing securities by reference to the value of other securities with similar characteristics, such as rating, interest rate and maturity. Short-term debt obligations having 60 days or less remaining until maturity, at time of purchase, may be valued at amortized cost, which approximates fair value.
Exchange traded options are valued at the last quoted sales price or, in the absence of a sale, at the mean between the current bid and ask prices on the exchange on which such options are traded. Futures and options on futures are valued at the settlement price determined by the exchange. Other securities for which market quotes are not readily available are valued at fair value as determined in good faith by the Board or persons acting at their direction. Swap agreements and other derivatives are generally valued daily based upon quotations from market makers or by a pricing service in accordance with the valuation procedures approved by the Board.
Under certain circumstances, the Funds may use an independent pricing service to calculate the fair market value of foreign equity securities on a daily basis by applying valuation factors to the last sale price or the mean price as noted above. The fair market values supplied by the independent pricing service will generally reflect market trading that occurs after the close of the applicable foreign markets of comparable securities or the value of other instruments that have a strong correlation to the fair-valued securities. The independent pricing service will also take into account the current relevant currency exchange rate. A security that is fair valued may be valued at a price higher or lower than actual market quotations or the value determined by other funds using their own fair valuation procedures. Because foreign securities may trade on days when Fund shares are not priced, the value of securities held by the Funds can change on days when Fund shares cannot be redeemed or purchased. In the event that a foreign security’s market quotations are not readily available or are deemed unreliable (for reasons other than because the foreign exchange on which it trades closed before the Funds’ calculation of NAV), the security will be valued at its fair market value as determined in good faith by the Adviser in accordance with procedures approved by the Board as discussed below. Without fair valuation, it is possible that short-term traders could take advantage of the arbitrage opportunity and dilute the NAV of long-term investors. Fair valuation of the Funds’ portfolio securities can serve to reduce arbitrage opportunities available to short-term traders, but there is no assurance that it will prevent dilution of the Funds’ NAV by short-term traders. In addition, because the Funds may invest in underlying ETFs which hold portfolio securities primarily listed on foreign (non-U.S.) exchanges, and these exchanges may trade on weekends or other days when the underlying ETFs do not price their shares, the value of these portfolio securities may change on days when you may not be able to buy or sell Fund shares.
Investments initially valued in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are converted to U.S. dollars using exchange rates obtained from pricing services. As a result, the NAV of the Funds’ shares may be affected by changes in the value of currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar. The value of securities traded in markets outside the United States or denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar may be affected significantly on a day that the New York Stock Exchange is closed and an investor is not able to purchase, redeem or exchange shares.
Fund shares are valued at the close of regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) (the "NYSE Close") on each day that the NYSE is open. The Trust expects that the NYSE will be closed on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day,
Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. For purposes of calculating the NAV, the Funds normally use pricing data for domestic equity securities received shortly after the NYSE Close and does not normally take into account trading, clearances or settlements that take place after the NYSE Close. Domestic fixed income and foreign securities are normally priced using data reflecting the earlier closing of the principal markets for those securities. Information that becomes known to the Fund or its agents after the NAV has been calculated on a particular day will not generally be used to retroactively adjust the price of the security or the NAV determined earlier that day.
When market quotations are insufficient or not readily available, the Funds may value securities at fair value or estimate their value as determined in good faith by the Board or its designees, pursuant to procedures approved by the Board. Fair valuation may also be used by the Board if extraordinary events occur after the close of the relevant market but prior to the NYSE Close.
The Funds may hold securities, such as private placements, interests in commodity pools, other non-traded securities or temporarily illiquid securities, for which market quotations are not readily available or are determined to be unreliable. These securities will be valued at their fair market value as determined using the “fair value” procedures approved by the Board. The Board has delegated execution of these procedures to the Adviser. The Adviser may also enlist third party consultants such as an audit firm or financial officer of a security issuer on an as-needed basis to assist in determining a security-specific fair value. The Board reviews and ratifies the execution of this process and the resultant fair value prices at least quarterly to assure the process produces reliable results.
Valuation Process. Fair value determinations are required for the following securities: (i) securities for which market quotations are insufficient or not readily available on a particular business day (including securities for which there is a short and temporary lapse in the provision of a price by the regular pricing source), (ii) securities for which, in the judgment of the Adviser, the prices or values available do not represent the fair value of the instrument. Factors which may cause the Adviser to make such a judgment include, but are not limited to, the following: only a bid price or an asked price is available; the spread between bid and asked prices is substantial; the frequency of sales; the thinness of the market; the size of reported trades; and actions of the securities markets, such as the suspension or limitation of trading; (iii) securities determined to be illiquid; (iv) securities with respect to which an event that will affect the value thereof has occurred (a “significant event”) since the closing prices were established on the principal exchange on which they are traded, but prior to the Funds’ calculation of its NAV. Specifically, interests in commodity pools or managed futures pools are valued on a daily basis by reference to the closing market prices of each futures contract or other asset held by a pool, as adjusted for pool expenses. Restricted securities or illiquid investments, such as private placements or non-traded securities are valued via inputs from the Adviser valuation based upon the current bid for the security from two or more independent dealers or other parties reasonably familiar with the facts and circumstances of the security (who should take into consideration all relevant factors as may be appropriate under the circumstances). If the Adviser is unable to obtain a current bid from such independent dealers or other independent parties, the Adviser shall determine the fair value of such security using the following factors: (i) the type of security; (ii) the cost at date of purchase; (iii) the size and nature of the Funds’ holdings; (iv) the discount from market value of unrestricted securities of the same class at the time of purchase and subsequent thereto; (v) information as to any transactions or offers with respect to the security; (vi) the nature and duration of restrictions on disposition of the security and the existence of any registration rights; (vii) how the yield of the security compares to similar securities of companies of similar or equal creditworthiness; (viii) the level of recent trades of similar or comparable securities; (ix) the liquidity characteristics of the security; (x) current market conditions; and (xi) the market value of any securities into which the security is convertible or exchangeable.
Standards For Fair Value Determinations. As a general principle, the fair value of a security is the amount that the Fund might reasonably expect to realize upon its current sale. The Trust has adopted Financial Accounting Standards Board Statement of Financial Accounting Standards Codification Topic 820, Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures ("ASC 820"). In accordance with ASC 820, fair value is defined as the price that the Funds would receive upon selling an investment in a timely transaction to an independent buyer in the principal or most advantageous market of the investment. ASC 820 establishes a three-tier hierarchy to maximize the use of observable market data and minimize the use of unobservable inputs and to establish classification of fair value measurements for disclosure purposes. Inputs refer broadly to the assumptions that market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability, including assumptions about risk, for example, the risk inherent in a particular valuation technique used to measure fair value including such a pricing model and/or the risk inherent in the inputs to the valuation technique. Inputs may be observable or unobservable. Observable inputs are inputs that reflect the assumptions market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability developed based on market data obtained from sources independent of the reporting entity. Unobservable inputs are inputs that reflect the reporting entity's own assumptions about the assumptions market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability, developed based on the best information available under the circumstances.
Various inputs are used in determining the value of each Fund's investments relating to ASC 820. These inputs are summarized in the three broad levels listed below.
Level 1 – quoted prices in active markets for identical securities.
Level 2 – other significant observable inputs (including quoted prices for similar securities, interest rates, prepayment speeds, credit risk, etc.)
Level 3 – significant unobservable inputs (including a Fund’s own assumptions in determining the fair value of investments).
The Adviser takes into account the relevant factors and surrounding circumstances, which may include: (i) the nature and pricing history (if any) of the security; (ii) whether any dealer quotations for the security are available; (iii) possible valuation methodologies that could be used to determine the fair value of the security; (iv) the recommendation of a portfolio manager of the Funds with respect to the valuation of the security; (v) whether the same or similar securities are held by other funds managed by the Adviser or other funds and the method used to price the security in those funds; (vi) the extent to which the fair value to be determined for the security will result from the use of data or formulae produced by independent third parties and (vii) the liquidity or illiquidity of the market for the security.
Board’s Determination. The Board meets at least quarterly to consider the valuations provided by the Adviser and to ratify the valuations made for the applicable securities. The Board considers the reports provided by the Adviser, including follow up studies of subsequent market-provided prices when available, in reviewing and determining in good faith the fair value of the applicable portfolio securities.
Purchase of Shares
Orders for shares received by a Fund in good order prior to the close of business on the NYSE on each day during such periods that the NYSE is open for trading are priced at the public offering price, which is NAV plus any sales charge, or at NAV per share (if no sales charges apply) computed as of the close of the regular session of trading on the NYSE. Orders received in good order after the close of the NYSE, or on a day it is not open for trading, are priced at the close of such NYSE on the
next day on which it is open for trading at the next determined NAV per share plus sales charges, if any.
Redemption of Shares
The Funds will redeem all or any portion of a shareholder's shares of a Fund when requested in accordance with the procedures set forth in the "How to Redeem Shares" section of the Prospectus. Under the 1940 Act, a shareholder's right to redeem shares and to receive payment therefore may be suspended at times:
(a) when the NYSE is closed, other than customary weekend and holiday closings; (b) when trading on that exchange is restricted for any reason; (c) when an emergency exists as a result of which disposal by the Funds of securities owned is not reasonably practicable or it is not reasonably practicable for the Funds to fairly determine the value of net assets, provided that applicable rules and regulations of the SEC (or any succeeding governmental authority) will govern as to whether the conditions prescribed in (b) or (c) exist; or (d) when the SEC by order permits a suspension of the right to redemption or a postponement of the date of payment on redemption.
In case of suspension of the right of redemption, payment of a redemption request will be made based on the NAV next determined after the termination of the suspension.
Supporting documents in addition to those listed under "How to Redeem Shares" in the Prospectus will be required from executors, administrators, trustees, or if redemption is requested by someone other than the shareholder of record. Such documents include, but are not restricted to, stock powers, trust instruments, certificates of death, appointments as executor, certificates of corporate authority and waiver of tax required in some states when settling estates.
The following discussion is general in nature and should not be regarded as an exhaustive presentation of all possible tax ramifications. All shareholders should consult a qualified tax adviser regarding their investment in the Funds.
The Funds intend to qualify as a regulated investment company under Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Tax Code"), which requires compliance with certain requirements concerning the sources of its income, diversification of its assets, and the amount and timing of its distributions to shareholders. Such qualification does not involve supervision of management or investment practices or policies by any government agency or bureau. By so qualifying, the Funds should not be subject to federal income or excise tax on its net investment income or net capital gain, which are distributed to shareholders in accordance with the applicable timing requirements. Net investment income and net capital gain of the Funds will be computed in accordance with Section 852 of the Tax Code.
Net investment income is made up of dividends and interest less expenses. Net capital gain for a fiscal year is computed by taking into account any capital loss carryforward of the Funds. The Funds’ net realized capital gains from securities transactions will be distributed only after reducing such gains by the amount of any available capital loss carryforwards. Capital losses incurred may be carried forward indefinitely and retain the character of the original loss. Capital loss carryforwards are available to offset future realized capital gains. To the extent that these carryforwards are used to offset future capital gains it is probable that the amount offset will not be distributed to shareholders.
As of June 30, 2022, the components of accumulated earnings/ (deficit) on a tax basis were as follows:
|Undistributed||Undistributed||Undistributed||Post October Loss||Capital Loss||Other||Unrealized||Total|
|Portfolio||Tax-Exempt Income||Income||Capital Gains||Late Year Loss||Forwards||Differences||(Depreciation)||Earnings/(Deficits)|
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||$||—||$||—||$||6,820,534||$||(8,704,269||)||$||—||$||—||(11,342,013||)||$||(13,225,748||)|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||—||—||91,365,030||(2,340,402||)||—||—||42,233,252||131,257,880|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||—||—||—||(3,635,248||)||(42,613,645||)||—||8,148,379||(38,100,514||)|
As of June 30, 2022, the Funds utilized capital loss carry forwards (“CLCF”) for federal income tax purposes as follows:
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund||$||—||$||—||$||—||$||—|
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||—||—||—||31,128,246|
|HCM Income Plus Fund||42,613,645||—||42,613,645||—|
The Funds intend to distribute all of its net investment income, any excess of net short-term capital gains over net long-term capital losses, and any excess of net long-term capital gains over net short-term capital losses in accordance with the timing requirements imposed by the Tax Code and therefore should not be required to pay any federal income or excise taxes. Distributions of net investment income and net capital gain will be made after the end of each fiscal year. Both types of distributions will be in shares of the Funds unless a shareholder elects to receive cash.
To be treated as a regulated investment company under Subchapter M of the Tax Code, the Funds must also (a) derive at least 90% of their gross income from dividends, interest, payments with respect to securities loans, net income from certain publicly traded partnerships and gains from the sale or other disposition of securities or foreign currencies, or other income (including, but not limited to, gains from options, futures or forward contracts) derived with respect to the business of investing in such securities or currencies, and (b) diversify their holdings so that, at the end of each fiscal quarter, (i) at least 50% of the market value of the Funds’ assets are represented by cash, U.S. government securities and securities of other regulated investment companies, and other securities (for purposes of this calculation, generally limited in respect of any one issuer, to an amount not greater than 5% of the market value of the Funds’ assets and 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer) and (ii) not more than 25% of the value of their assets is invested in the securities of (other than U.S. government securities or the securities of other regulated investment companies) any one issuer, two or more issuers which the Funds control and which are determined to be engaged in the same or similar trades or businesses, or the securities of certain publicly traded partnerships.
If the Funds fail to qualify as a regulated investment company under Subchapter M in any fiscal year, it will be treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes. As such, the Funds would be required to pay income taxes on its net investment income and net realized capital gains, if any, at the rates generally applicable to corporations. Shareholders of the Funds generally would not be liable for income tax on the Funds' net investment income or net realized capital gains in their individual capacities. Distributions to shareholders, whether from the Funds’ net investment income or net realized capital gains, would be treated as taxable dividends to the extent of current or accumulated earnings and profits of the Funds.
The Funds are subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax on certain undistributed amounts of ordinary income and capital gain under a prescribed formula contained in Section 4982 of the Tax Code. The formula requires payment to shareholders during a calendar year of distributions representing at least 98% of the Funds’ ordinary income for the calendar year and at least 98.2% of its capital gain net income (i.e., the excess of its capital gains over capital losses) realized during the one-year period ending October 31 during such year plus 100% of any income that was neither distributed nor taxed to the Funds during the preceding calendar year. Under ordinary circumstances, the Funds expect to time their distributions so as to avoid liability for this tax.
The following discussion of tax consequences is for the general information of shareholders that are subject to tax. Shareholders that are IRAs or other qualified retirement plans are exempt from income taxation under the Tax Code.
Distributions of taxable net investment income and the excess of net short-term capital gain over net long-term capital loss are generally taxable to shareholders as ordinary income, unless such distributions are attributable to “qualified dividend income” eligible for the reduced federal income tax rates applicable to long-term capital gains, provided certain holding period and other requirements are satisfied.
Distributions of net capital gain ("capital gain dividends") generally are taxable to shareholders as long-term capital gain, regardless of the length of time the shares of the Funds have been held by such shareholders.
Certain U.S. shareholders, including individuals and estates and trusts are subject to an additional 3.8% Medicare tax on all or a portion of their “net investment income,” which should include dividends from the Funds and net gains from the disposition of shares of the Funds. U.S. shareholders are urged to consult their own tax advisors regarding the implications of the additional Medicare tax resulting from an investment in the Funds.
A redemption of Fund shares by a shareholder will result in the recognition of taxable gain or loss in an amount equal to the difference between the amount realized and the shareholder's tax basis in his or her Fund shares. Such gain or loss is treated as a capital gain or loss if the shares are held as capital assets. The gain or loss will generally be treated as long-term capital gain or loss if the shares were held for more than one year and if not held for such period, as short-term capital gain or loss. However, any loss realized upon the redemption of shares within six months from the date of their purchase will be treated as a long-term capital loss to the extent of any amounts treated as capital gain dividends during such six-month period. All or a portion of any loss realized upon the redemption of shares may be disallowed to the extent shares are purchased (including shares acquired by means of reinvested dividends) within 30 days before or after such redemption.
Distributions of taxable net investment income and net capital gain will be taxable as described above, whether received in additional shares or cash. Shareholders electing to receive distributions in the form of additional shares will have a cost basis for federal income tax purposes in each share so received equal to the NAV of a share on the reinvestment date.
All distributions of taxable net investment income and net capital gain, whether received in shares or in cash, must be reported by each taxable shareholder on his or her federal income tax return. Dividends or distributions declared in October, November or December as of a record date in such a month, if any, will be deemed to have been received by shareholders on December 31, if paid during January of the following year. Redemptions of shares may result in tax consequences (gain or loss) to the shareholder and are also subject to these reporting requirements.
Under the Tax Code, the Funds will be required to report to the Internal Revenue Service all distributions of income and capital gains as well as gross proceeds from the redemption or exchange of Fund shares, except in the case of certain exempt shareholders. Under the backup withholding provisions of Section 3406 of the Tax Code, distributions of net investment income and net capital gain and proceeds from the redemption or exchange of the shares of a regulated investment company may be subject to withholding of federal income tax in the case of non-exempt shareholders who fail to furnish the Investment Company with their taxpayer identification numbers and with required certifications regarding their status under the federal income tax law, or if the Funds are notified by the IRS or a broker that withholding is required due to an incorrect TIN or a previous failure to report taxable interest or dividends. If the withholding provisions are applicable, any such distributions and proceeds, whether taken in cash or reinvested in additional shares, will be reduced by the amounts required to be withheld.
Options, Futures, Forward Contracts and Swap Agreements
To the extent such investments are permissible for the Funds, the Funds’ transactions in options, futures contracts, hedging transactions, forward contracts, straddles and foreign currencies will be subject to special tax rules (including mark-to-market, constructive sale, straddle, wash sale and short sale rules), the effect of which may be to accelerate income to the Funds, defer losses to the Funds, cause adjustments in the holding periods of the Funds' securities, convert long-term capital gains into short-term capital gains and convert short-term capital losses into long-term capital losses. These rules could therefore affect the amount, timing and character of distributions to shareholders.
To the extent such investments are permissible, certain of the Funds' hedging activities (including their transactions, if any, in foreign currencies or foreign currency-denominated instruments) are likely to produce a difference between its book income and its taxable income. If the Funds' book income exceeds their taxable income, the distribution (if any) of such excess book income will be treated as (i) a dividend to the extent of the Funds' remaining earnings and profits (including earnings and profits arising from tax-exempt income), (ii) thereafter, as a return of capital to the extent of the recipient's basis in the shares, and (iii) thereafter, as gain from the sale or exchange of a capital asset. If the Funds' book income is less than taxable income, the Funds could be required to make distributions exceeding book income to qualify as a regular investment company that is accorded special tax treatment.
Passive Foreign Investment Companies
Investment by the Funds in certain "passive foreign investment companies" ("PFICs") could subject the Funds to a U.S. federal income tax (including interest charges) on distributions received from the company or on proceeds received from the disposition of shares in the company, which tax cannot be eliminated by making distributions to Funds shareholders. However, the Funds may elect to treat a PFIC as a qualified electing fund ("QEF"), in which case the Funds will be required to include its share of the company's income and net capital gains annually, regardless of whether they receives any distribution from the company.
The Funds also may make an election to mark the gains (and to a limited extent losses) in such holdings "to the market" as though it had sold and repurchased its holdings in those PFICs on the last day of the Funds' taxable year. Such gains and losses are treated as ordinary income and loss. The QEF and mark-to-market elections may accelerate the recognition of income (without the receipt of cash) and increase the amount required to be distributed for the Funds to avoid taxation. Making either of these elections therefore may require each Fund to liquidate other investments (including when it is
not advantageous to do so) to meet its distribution requirement, which also may accelerate the recognition of gain and affect the Funds' total return.
Foreign Currency Transactions
The Funds' transactions in foreign currencies, foreign currency-denominated debt securities and certain foreign currency options, futures contracts and forward contracts (and similar instruments) may give rise to ordinary income or loss to the extent such income or loss results from fluctuations in the value of the foreign currency concerned.
Other Regulated Investment Companies
Generally, the character of the income or capital gains that each Fund receives from another investment company will pass through to the Funds’ shareholders as long as each Fund and the other investment company each qualify as a regulated investment company. However, to the extent that another investment company that qualifies as a regulated investment company realizes net losses on its investments for a given taxable year, the Funds will not be able to recognize its share of those losses until it disposes of shares of such investment company. Moreover, even when each Fund does make such a disposition, a portion of its loss may be recognized as a long-term capital loss, which will not be treated as favorably for federal income tax purposes as an ordinary deduction. In particular, the Funds will not be able to offset any capital losses from its dispositions of shares of other investment companies against its ordinary income. As a result of the foregoing rules, and certain other special rules, it is possible that the amounts of net investment income and net capital gains that the Funds will be required to distribute to shareholders will be greater than such amounts would have been had the Funds invested directly in the securities held by the investment companies in which it invests, rather than investing in shares of the investment companies. For similar reasons, the character of distributions from the Funds (e.g., long-term capital gain, qualified dividend income, etc.) will not necessarily be the same as it would have been had the Funds invested directly in the securities held by the investment companies in which it invests.
Income received by the Funds from sources within foreign countries may be subject to withholding and other taxes imposed by such countries. Tax treaties and conventions between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the value of the Funds' total assets at the close of its taxable year consists of securities of foreign corporations, the Funds may be able to elect to "pass through" to the Funds' shareholders the amount of eligible foreign income and similar taxes paid by the Funds. If this election is made, a shareholder generally subject to tax will be required to include in gross income (in addition to taxable dividends actually received) his or her pro rata share of the foreign taxes paid by the Funds, and may be entitled either to deduct (as an itemized deduction) his or her pro rata share of foreign taxes in computing his or her taxable income or to use it as a foreign tax credit against his or her U.S. federal income tax liability, subject to certain limitations. In particular, a shareholder must hold his or her shares (without protection from risk of loss) on the ex-dividend date and for at least 15 more days during the 30-day period surrounding the ex-dividend date to be eligible to claim a foreign tax credit with respect to a gain dividend. No deduction for foreign taxes may be claimed by a shareholder who does not itemize deductions. Each shareholder will be notified within 60 days after the close of the Funds' taxable year whether the foreign taxes paid by the Funds will "pass through" for that year.
Generally, a credit for foreign taxes is subject to the limitation that it may not exceed the shareholder's U.S. tax attributable to his or her total foreign source taxable income. For this purpose, if
the pass-through election is made, the source of the Funds' income will flow through to shareholders of the Funds. With respect to the Funds, gains from the sale of securities will be treated as derived from U.S. sources and certain currency fluctuation gains, including fluctuation gains from foreign currency-denominated debt securities, receivables and payables will be treated as ordinary income derived from U.S. sources. The limitation on the foreign tax credit is applied separately to foreign source passive income, and to certain other types of income. A shareholder may be unable to claim a credit for the full amount of his or her proportionate share of the foreign taxes paid by the Funds. The foreign tax credit can be used to offset only 90% of the revised alternative minimum tax imposed on corporations and individuals and foreign taxes generally are not deductible in computing alternative minimum taxable income.
Payments to a shareholder that is either a foreign financial institution (“FFI”) or a non-financial foreign entity (“NFFE”) within the meaning of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) may be subject to a generally nonrefundable 30% withholding tax on: (a) income dividends paid by the Funds and (b) certain capital gain distributions and the proceeds arising from the sale of Funds shares paid by the Funds. FATCA withholding tax generally can be avoided: (a) by an FFI, subject to any applicable intergovernmental agreement or other exemption, if it enters into a valid agreement with the IRS to, among other requirements, report required information about certain direct and indirect ownership of foreign financial accounts held by U.S. persons with the FFI and (b) by an NFFE, if it: (i) certifies that it has no substantial U.S. persons as owners or (ii) if it does have such owners, reports information relating to them. A Fund may disclose the information that it receives from its shareholders to the IRS, non-U.S. taxing authorities or other parties as necessary to comply with FATCA. Withholding also may be required if a foreign entity that is a shareholder of a Fund fails to provide the Fund with appropriate certifications or other documentation concerning its status under FATCA.
Original Issue Discount and Pay-In-Kind Securities
Current federal tax law requires the holder of a U.S. Treasury or other fixed income zero coupon security to accrue as income each year a portion of the discount at which the security was purchased, even though the holder receives no interest payment in cash on the security during the year. In addition, pay-in-kind securities will give rise to income which is required to be distributed and is taxable even though the Funds holding the security receives no interest payment in cash on the security during the year.
Some of the debt securities (with a fixed maturity date of more than one year from the date of issuance) that may be acquired by the Funds may be treated as debt securities that are issued originally at a discount. Generally, the amount of the original issue discount ("OID") is treated as interest income and is included in income over the term of the debt security, even though payment of that amount is not received until a later time, usually when the debt security matures. A portion of the OID includable in income with respect to certain high-yield corporate debt securities (including certain pay-in-kind securities) may be treated as a dividend for U.S. federal income tax purposes.
Some of the debt securities (with a fixed maturity date of more than one year from the date of issuance) that may be acquired by the Funds in the secondary market may be treated as having market discount. Generally, any gain recognized on the disposition of, and any partial payment of principal on, a debt security having market discount is treated as ordinary income to the extent the gain, or principal payment, does not exceed the "accrued market discount" on such debt security. Market discount generally accrues in equal daily installments. The Funds may make one or more of the elections applicable to debt securities having market discount, which could affect the character and timing of recognition of income.
Some debt securities (with a fixed maturity date of one year or less from the date of issuance) that may be acquired by the Funds may be treated as having acquisition discount, or OID in the case of certain types of debt securities. Generally, the Funds will be required to include the acquisition discount, or OID, in income over the term of the debt security, even though payment of that amount is not received until a later time, usually when the debt security matures. The Funds may make one or more of the elections applicable to debt securities having acquisition discount, or OID, which could affect the character and timing of recognition of income.
If a Fund holds the foregoing kinds of securities, it may be required to pay out as an income distribution each year an amount, which is greater than the total amount of cash interest the Fund actually received. Such distributions may be made from the cash assets of the Funds or by liquidation of portfolio securities, if necessary (including when it is not advantageous to do so). The Funds may realize gains or losses from such liquidations. In the event the Funds realize net capital gains from such transactions, its shareholders may receive a larger capital gain distribution, if any, than they would in the absence of such transactions.
The high yield on these securities reflects the payment deferral and increased credit risks associated with such investments and may represent significantly higher credit risk than coupon loans. These securities may have unreliable valuations because their continuous accruals require continuing judgment about the collectability of the defaulted payment and the value of any associated collateral. Pay-in-Kind securities interest has the effect of generating investment income and increasing the incentives fees payable at a compounding rate. In addition, the deferral of Pay-In-Kind interest also reduces the loan to value ratio at a compounding rate. These securities create the risk that incentive fees will be paid to the investment adviser based on non-cash accruals that ultimately may not be realized. The Adviser will be under no obligation to reimburse the Funds for these fees.
Shareholders of the Funds may be subject to state and local taxes on distributions received from the Funds and on redemptions of the Funds’ shares.
A brief explanation of the form and character of the distribution accompany each distribution. After the end of each year the Funds issues to each shareholder a statement of the federal income tax status of all distributions.
Shareholders should consult their tax advisers about the application of federal, state and local and foreign tax law in light of their particular situation.
ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING PROGRAM
The Trust has established an Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Program (the "Program") as required by the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 ("USA PATRIOT Act"). To ensure compliance with this law, the Trust's Program provides for the development of internal practices, procedures and controls, designation of anti-money laundering compliance officers, an ongoing training program and an independent audit function to determine the effectiveness of the Program. The Trust's secretary serves as its Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Officer.
Procedures to implement the Program include, but are not limited to, determining that the Fund's Distributor and Transfer Agent have established proper anti-money laundering procedures, reporting suspicious and/or fraudulent activity and providing a complete and thorough review of all new opening
account applications. The Trust will not transact business with any person or entity whose identity cannot be adequately verified under the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.
As a result of the Program, the Trust may be required to "freeze" the account of a shareholder if the shareholder appears to be involved in suspicious activity or if certain account information matches information on government lists of known terrorists or other suspicious persons, or the Trust may be required to transfer the account or proceeds of the account to a governmental agency.
CONTROL PERSONS AND PRINCIPAL HOLDERS OF SECURITIES
A principal shareholder is any person who owns of record or beneficially 5% or more of the outstanding shares of a Fund. A control person is one who owns beneficially or through controlled companies more than 25% of the voting securities of a company or acknowledges the existence of control. Persons controlling the Funds can determine the outcome of any proposal submitted to the shareholders for approval, including changes to the Funds’ fundamental policies or the terms of the advisory agreement with the Adviser.
As of October 3, 2022, the following shareholders of record owned 5% or more of the outstanding shares of each class of the Funds listed below:
|HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund|
Class A Shares
Name & Address
|Shares||Percentage of Fund Share Class|
TD Ameritrade Inc.
P.O. Box 226
Omaha, NE 68103-2226
Axos Clearing LLC
P.O. Box 6503
Englewood, CO 80155-6503
Class A1 Shares
Name & Address
Matrix Trust Company Cust. FBO
717 17th Street, Suite 1300
Denver CO 80202
Class I Shares
Name & Address
ATTN: Mutual Fund Operations
4707 Executive DR
San Diego, CA 92121
MCLEAN VA 22102
Investor Class Shares
Name & Address
TD Ameritrade Inc.
P.O. Box 226
Omaha, NE 68103-2226
CHARLES SCHWAB & CO, 211 MAIN ST
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105
|HCM Tactical Growth Fund|
Class A Shares
Name & Address
|Shares||Percentage of Fund Share Class|
TD Ameritrade Inc.
P.O. Box 226
Omaha, NE 68103-2226
Axos Clearing LLC
P.O. Box 6503
Englewood, CO 80155-6503
Class I Shares
Name & Address
ATTN: Mutual Fund Operations
4707 Executive DR
San Diego, CA 92121
Investor Class Shares
Name & Address
TD Ameritrade Inc.
P.O. Box 226
Omaha, NE 68103-2226
CHARLES SCHWAB & CO, 211 MAIN ST
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105
|HCM Income Plus Fund|
Class A Shares
Name & Address
|Shares||Percentage of Fund Share Class|
CHARLES SCHWAB & CO, 211 MAIN ST
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105
TD Ameritrade Inc.
P.O. Box 226
Omaha, NE 68103-2226
Axos Clearing LLC
P.O. Box 6503
Englewood, CO 80155-6503
Investor Class Shares
Name & Address
TD Ameritrade Inc.
P.O. Box 226
Omaha, NE 68103-2226
CHARLES SCHWAB & CO, 211 MAIN ST
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105
Class I Shares
Name & Address
SEI Private Trust Company/c/o GWP US Advisors
1 Freedom Valley Drive
Oaks, PA 19456
Management Ownership Information.
As of October 3, 2022, the Trustees and officers of the Trust, as a group, beneficially owned less than 1% of the outstanding shares of the Funds.
The business of the Trust is managed under the direction of the Board in accordance with the Agreement and Declaration of Trust and the Trust's By-laws (the "Governing Documents"), which have been filed with the SEC and are available upon request. The Board consists of four individuals, all of whom are not "interested persons" (as defined under the 1940 Act) of the Trust and the Adviser ("Independent Trustees"). Pursuant to the Governing Documents, the Board shall elect officers including a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, a Principal Executive Officer and a Principal Accounting Officer. The Board retains the power to conduct, operate and carry on the business of the Trust and has the power to incur and pay any expenses, which, in the opinion of the Board, are necessary or incidental to carry out any of the Trust's purposes. The Board, officers, employees and agents of the Trust, when acting in such capacities, shall not be subject to any personal liability except for his or her own bad faith, willful misfeasance, gross negligence or reckless disregard of his or her duties.
Board Leadership Structure. The Board is led by John V. Palancia, who has served as the Chairman of the Board (the “Chairman”) since May 2014. The Board has not appointed a Lead Independent Trustee because all Trustees are Independent Trustees. Under the Governing Documents, the Chairman is responsible for (a) presiding at Board meetings, (b) calling special meetings on an as-needed basis, and (c) execution and administration of Trust policies, including (i) setting the agendas for Board meetings and (ii) providing information to Board members in advance of each Board meeting and between Board meetings. Generally, the Trust believes it best to have a non-executive Chairman, who together with the President (principal executive officer), are seen by its
shareholders, business partners and other stakeholders as providing strong leadership. The Trust believes that its Chairman, the independent chair of the Audit Committee, and, as an entity, the full Board, provide effective leadership that is in the best interests of the Trust, its Funds and each shareholder.
Board Risk Oversight. The Board is comprised entirely of Independent Trustees with an Audit Committee with a separate chair. The Board is responsible for overseeing risk management, and the Board regularly engages in discussions of risk management and receives compliance reports that inform its oversight of risk management from its Chief Compliance Officer at quarterly meetings and on an ad hoc basis, when and if necessary. The Audit Committee considers financial and risk reporting within its area of responsibilities. Generally, the Board believes that its oversight of material risks is adequately maintained through the compliance-reporting chain where the Chief Compliance Officer is the primary recipient and communicator of such risk-related information.
Generally, the Fund believes that each Trustee is competent to serve because of his or her individual overall merits including his or her: (i) experience, (ii) qualifications, (iii) attributes and (iv) skills.
Patricia Luscombe, CFA, has more than 30 years in financial advisory and valuation services. She has delivered a broad range of corporate finance advice including fairness opinions and valuations. Ms. Luscombe joined Lincoln International in 2007 as a Managing Director and co-head of Lincoln's Valuations & Opinions Group. In this position, she assists regulated investment funds, business development companies, private equity funds and hedge funds in the valuation of illiquid securities for fair value accounting purposes. Ms. Luscombe's clients range from closely held businesses to large, publicly-traded companies. Previously, Ms. Luscombe spent 16 years with Duff & Phelps Corporation, as a Managing Director in the firm's valuation and financial advisory business. Prior to joining Duff & Phelps Corporation, Ms. Luscombe was an Associate at Smith Barney, a division of Citigroup Capital Markets, Inc., where she managed a variety of financial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, and equity and debt financings. Ms. Luscombe is a member of the Chicago Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, the Chartered Financial Analyst Society of Chicago and former president of the Chicago Finance Exchange. Ms. Luscombe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Stanford University, a Masters degree in economics from the University of Chicago and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In addition, Ms. Luscombe is licensed under the Series 24, 79 and 63 of FINRA.
John V. Palancia has over 40 years of business experience in the financial services industry including serving as the Director of Global Futures Operations for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. (“Merrill Lynch”). Mr. Palancia possesses an in depth understanding of broker-dealer operations from having served in various management capacities and has held industry registrations in both securities and futures. Based on his service at Merrill Lynch, he also possesses a strong understanding of risk management, balance sheet analysis, compliance and the regulatory framework under which regulated financial entities must operate. Additionally, he is well versed in the regulatory framework under which investment companies must operate based on his service as a member of three other mutual fund boards. This practical and extensive experience in the securities industry provides valuable insight into fund operations and enhances his ability to effectively serve as chairman of the Board. Mr. Palancia is a member of the Investment Company Institute and Mutual Fund Directors Forum. Mr. Palancia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics.
Mark H. Taylor has over 30 years of academic and professional experience in the accounting and auditing fields, which makes him particularly qualified to chair the Board’s Audit Committee. Dr. Taylor holds PhD, Master’s and Bachelors degrees in Accountancy and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and serves as a member of two other mutual fund boards within the Northern Lights Fund Complex. Dr. Taylor is the Director of the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy at the Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida and has been serving a three-year term as President of the American Accounting Association (AAA) since August 2022 (as President-Elect 8/22-7/23, President 8/23-8/24, and Past President 8/24-8/25). Dr. Taylor previously served as Vice President-Finance of the AAA, and as President of the Auditing Section of the AAA. He previously served a three-year term on the AICPA’s Auditing Standards Board and completed a fellowship in the Professional Practice Group of the Office of the Chief Accountant at the headquarters of the United States Securities Exchange Commission. Dr. Taylor is a member of two research teams that received grants from the Center for Audit Quality and has had his research widely published in leading academic accounting and practice journals. Dr. Taylor has teaching interests in corporate governance and accounting policy as well as auditing and assurance services at the graduate and undergraduate levels and possesses a strong understanding of the regulatory framework under which investment companies operate.
Jeffery D. Young has over 40 years of business management experience, including in the transportation industry and operations and information technologies. He is currently Co-owner and Vice President of the Latin America Agriculture Development Corporation, an agribusiness exporting fruit to the United States and other Central American countries. He has served as Assistant Vice President of Transportation Systems at Union Pacific Railroad Company, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of large-scale command and control systems that support railroad operations and safety. In this position, Mr. Young was heavily involved in the regulatory compliance of safety and mission critical systems. Mr. Young also served as Chairman of the Association of American Railroads Policy Committee and represented both Union Pacific Railroad and the railroad industry in safety and regulatory hearings with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, DC. Mr. Young was a member of the Board of Directors of PS Technologies, a Union Pacific affiliate serving as a technology supplier to the railroad industry. His practical business experience and understanding of regulatory compliance provides a different perspective that brings diversity to Board deliberations.
Trustees and Officers. The Trustees and officers of the Trust, together with information as to their principal business occupations during the past five years and other information, are shown below. Unless otherwise noted, the address of each Trustee and officer is 225 Pictoria Drive, Suite 450, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246.
|Name, Address, Year of Birth||Position(s) Held with Registrant||Length of Service and Term||Principal Occupation(s) During Past 5 Years||Number of Funds Overseen In The Fund Complex*||Other Directorships Held During Past 5 Years**|
|Trustee||Since January 2015, Indefinite||Managing Director of the Valuations and Opinions Group, Lincoln International LLC (since August 2007).||6||Northern Lights Fund Trust III (for series not affiliated with the Fund since 2015); Monetta Mutual Funds (since November 2015).|
|Trustee, Chairman||Trustee, since February 2012, Indefinite; Chairman of the Board since May 2014.||Retired (since 2011); formerly, Director of Global Futures Operations Control, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. (1975-2011).||6||Northern Lights Fund Trust III (for series not affiliated with the Fund since 2012); Northern Lights Fund Trust (since 2011); Northern Lights Variable Trust (since 2011); Alternative Strategies Fund (since 2012).|
|Trustee, Chairman of the Audit Committee||Since February 2012, Indefinite||Director, Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy, Muma College of Business, University of South Florida (since August 2019); Chair, Department of Accountancy and Andrew D. Braden Professor of Accounting and Auditing, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University (2009-2019); Vice President-Finance, American Accounting Association (2017-2020); President, Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association (2012-2015); AICPA Auditing Standards Board Member (2009-2012); Academic Fellow, United States Securities and Exchange Commission (2005-2006).||6||Northern Lights Fund Trust III (for series not affiliated with the Fund since 2012); Northern Lights Fund Trust (since 2007); Northern Lights Variable Trust (since 2007); Alternative Strategies Fund (since June 2010).|
Jeffery D. Young
|Trustee||Since January 2015, Indefinite||Co-owner and Vice President, Latin America Agriculture Development Corp. (since May 2015); President, Celeritas Rail Consulting (since June 2014); Asst. Vice President - Transportation Systems, Union Pacific Railroad Company (June 1976 to April 2014).||6||Northern Lights Fund Trust III (for series not affiliated with the Fund since 2015).|
* As of June 30, 2022, the Trust was comprised of 32 active portfolios managed by 16 unaffiliated investment advisers. The term “Fund Complex” refers only to the Funds, HCM Dynamic Income Fund, HCM Defender 100 Index ETF, HCM Defender 500 Index ETF, and not to any other series of the Trust. The Funds do not hold themselves out as related to any other series within the Trust for investment purposes, nor do they share the same investment adviser with any other series.
** Only includes directorships held within the past 5 years in a company with a class of securities registered pursuant to Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 or subject to the requirements of Section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, or any company registered as an investment company under the 1940 Act.
Officers of the Trust
|Name, Address, Year of Birth||Position(s) Held with Registrant||Length of Service and Term||Principal Occupation(s) During Past 5 Years|
August 2022, indefinite
|Vice President and Senior Managing Counsel, Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC (since 2022); Vice President and Managing Counsel, Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC (2020-2022); Vice President and Counsel, Gemini Fund Services, LLC (2017-2020); Assistant Vice President, Gemini Fund Services, LLC (2014- 2017).|
February 2013, indefinite
|Vice President, Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC (since 2020); Vice President, Gemini Fund Services, LLC (2015-2020).|
August 2022, indefinite
|Legal Administrator II, Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC (since 2021); Legal Administrator I, Ultimus Fund Solutions, LLC (2019-2021); Legal Administration Associate, Gemini Fund Services, LLC (2017-2019).|
|Chief Compliance Officer||
February 2012, indefinite
|Senior Compliance Officer of Northern Lights Compliance Services, LLC (since 2011).|
Audit Committee. The Board has an Audit Committee that consists solely of Independent Trustees. The Audit Committee's responsibilities include: (i) recommending to the Board the selection, retention or termination of the Trust's independent auditors; (ii) reviewing with the independent auditors the scope, performance and anticipated cost of their audit; (iii) discussing with the independent auditors certain matters relating to the Trust's financial statements, including any adjustment to such financial statements recommended by such independent auditors, or any other results of any audit; (iv) reviewing on a periodic basis a formal written statement from the independent auditors with respect to their independence, discussing with the independent auditors any relationships or services disclosed in the statement that may impact the objectivity and independence of the Trust's independent auditors and recommending that the Board take appropriate action in response thereto to satisfy itself of the auditor's independence; and (v) considering the comments of the independent auditors and management's responses thereto with respect to the quality and adequacy of the Trust's accounting and financial reporting policies and practices and internal controls. The Audit Committee operates pursuant to an Audit Committee Charter. Dr. Taylor is Chairman of the Audit Committee. During the past fiscal year, the Audit Committee held five meetings.
Compensation of Directors. Effective January 1, 2022, each Trustee receives a quarterly fee of $26,000, allocated among each of the various portfolios comprising the Trust, for his or her attendance at the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board, to be paid in advance of each calendar quarter, as well as reimbursement for any reasonable expenses incurred. Effective January 1, 2022, in addition to the quarterly fees and reimbursements, the Chairman receives a quarterly fee of $6,250, and the Audit Committee Chairman receives a quarterly fee of $4,500. From January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021, each Trustee who was not affiliated with the Trust or an investment adviser to any series of the Trust received a quarterly fee of $23,500, allocated among each of the various portfolios comprising the Trust, for his or her attendance at the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board, paid in advance of each calendar quarter, as well as reimbursement for any reasonable expenses incurred. From April 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020, each Trustee who was not affiliated with the Trust or an investment adviser to any series of the Trust received a quarterly fee of $21,500, allocated among each of the various portfolios comprising the Trust, for his or her attendance at the regularly scheduled meetings of the Board, paid in advance of each calendar quarter, as well as reimbursement for any
reasonable expenses incurred. From January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2021, in addition to the quarterly fees and reimbursements, the Chairman received a quarterly fee of $5,000, and the Audit Committee Chairman received a quarterly fee of $3,750.
Additionally, in the event an in-person meeting of the Board other than its regularly scheduled meetings (a “Special Meeting”) is required, each Independent Trustee will receive a fee of $2,500 per Special Meeting, as well as reimbursement for any reasonable expenses incurred, to be paid by the relevant series of the Trust or its investment adviser depending on the circumstances necessitating the Special Meeting. None of the executive officers receive compensation from the Trust.
The table below details the amount of compensation the Board received from the HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund, HCM Tactical Growth Fund and HCM Income Plus Fund during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022. The Trust does not have a bonus, profit sharing, pension or retirement plan.
|Name and Position||HCM Dividend Sector Plus Fund||HCM Tactical Growth Fund||HCM Income Plus Fund||Pension or Retirement Benefits Accrued as Part of Fund Expenses||Estimated Annual Benefits Upon Retirement||Total Compensation From Trust and Fund Complex* Paid to Trustees|
|John V. Palancia||
|Mark H. Taylor||
|Jeffery D. Young||
* There are currently numerous series comprising the Trust. The term “Fund Complex” refers only to the Funds, HCM Dynamic Income Fund, HCM Defender 100 Index ETF, HCM Defender 500 Index ETF, and not to any other series of the Trust. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, the aggregate independent Trustees’ fees paid by the entire Trust were $435,000.
Trustees' Ownership of Shares in the Funds. As of December 31, 2021, the Trustees beneficially owned the following amounts in the Funds:
|Name of Trustee||Dollar Range of Equity Securities in the Funds||Aggregate Dollar Range of Equity Securities in All Registered Investment Companies Overseen by Trustee in Family of Investment Companies|
|John V. Palancia||None||$10,001-$50,000|
|Mark H. Taylor||None||$10,001-$50,000|
|Jeffery D. Young||None||None|
The financial statements and report of the independent registered public accounting firm required to be included in this SAI are hereby incorporated by reference to the Annual Report for the Funds for the year ended June 30, 2022. You can obtain the Semi-Annual Report and the Annual Report without charge by calling the Funds at 1-866-209-1964.
DESCRIPTION OF MOODY'S CORPORATE BOND RATINGS
Aaa. Bonds rated Aaa are judged to be the best quality. They carry the smallest degree of investment risk and are generally referred to as "gilt edge." Interest payments are protected by a large or by an exceptionally stable margin and principal is secure. While the various protective elements are likely to change, such changes as can be visualized are most unlikely to impair the fundamentally strong position of these issues.
Aa. Bonds which are rated Aa are judged to be of high quality by all standards. Together with the Aaa group they comprise what are generally known as high-grade bonds. They are rated lower than the best bonds because margins of protection may not be as large as in Aaa securities or fluctuation of protective elements may be of greater amplitude or there may be other elements present which make the long-term risks appear somewhat larger than in Aaa securities.
A. Bonds which are rated A possess many favorable investment attributes and are to be considered as upper medium grade obligations. Factors giving security to principal and interest are considered adequate but elements may be present which suggest a susceptibility to impairment sometime in the future.
Baa. Bonds which are rated Baa are considered as medium grade obligations, i.e., they are neither highly protected nor poorly secured. Interest payments and principal security appear adequate for the present but certain protective elements may be lacking or may be characteristically unreliable over any great length of time. Such bonds lack outstanding investment characteristics and in fact have speculative characteristics as well.
Ba. Bonds which are rated Ba are judged to have speculative elements; their future payments cannot be considered as well assured. Often the protection of interest and principal may be very moderate and thereby not well safeguarded during both good and bad times over the future. Uncertainty of position characterizes bonds in this class.
B. Bonds which are rated B generally lack characteristics of the desirable investment. Assurance of interest and principal payments or of maintenance of other terms of the contract over any long period of time may be small.
Moody's applies the numerical modifiers 1, 2, and 3 to each generic rating classification from Aa through B. The modifier 1 indicates that the security ranks in the higher end of its generic rating category; the modifier 2 indicates a mid-range ranking; and the modifier 3 indicates that the issue ranks in the lower end of its generic rating category.
DESCRIPTION OF COMMERCIAL PAPER RATINGS
Commercial paper rated Prime-l by Moody's are judged by Moody's to be of the best quality. Their short-term debt obligations carry the smallest degree of investment risk. Margins of support for current indebtedness are large or stable with cash flow and asset protection well insured. Current liquidity provides ample coverage of near-term liabilities and unused alternative financing arrangements are generally available. While protective elements may change over the intermediate or longer term, such changes are most unlikely to impair the fundamentally strong position of short-term obligations.
Issuers (or related supporting institutions) rated Prime-2 have a strong capacity for repayment of short-term promissory obligations. This will normally be evidenced by many of the characteristics cited above but to a lesser degree. Earnings trends and coverage ratios, while sound, will be more subject to variation. Capitalization characteristics, while still appropriate, may be more affected by external conditions. Ample alternate liquidity is maintained.
Commercial paper rated A by S&P have the following characteristics. Liquidity ratios are better than industry average. Long-term debt rating is A or better. The issuer has access to at least two additional channels of borrowing. Basic earnings and cash flow are in an upward trend. Typically, the issuer is a strong company in a well-established industry and has superior management. Issuers rated A are further refined by use of numbers 1, 2, and 3 to denote relative strength within this highest classification. Those issuers rated A-1 that are determined by S&P to possess overwhelming safety characteristics are denoted with a plus (+) sign designation.
Fitch's commercial paper ratings represent Fitch's assessment of the issuer's ability to meet its obligations in a timely manner. The assessment places emphasis on the existence of liquidity. Ratings range from F-1+ which represents exceptionally strong credit quality to F-4 which represents weak credit quality.
Duff & Phelps' short-term ratings apply to all obligations with maturities of under one year, including commercial paper, the uninsured portion of certificates of deposit, unsecured bank loans, master notes, bankers acceptances, irrevocable letters of credit and current maturities of long-term debt. Emphasis is placed on liquidity. Ratings range from Duff 1+ for the highest quality to Duff 5 for the lowest, issuers in default. Issues rated Duff 1+ are regarded as having the highest certainty of timely payment. Issues rated Duff 1 are regarded as having very high certainty of timely payment.
PROXY VOTING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
HOWARD CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC.
PROXY VOTING POLICY AND PROCEDURES
Non-Mutual Fund Clients.
Howard Capital Management does not vote proxies on behalf of clients. All proxy materials received on behalf of a client account are to be sent directly to our client or a designated representative of the client, who is responsible for voting the proxy. Howard Capital Management personnel may answer client questions regarding proxy-voting matters in an effort to assist the client in determining how to vote the proxy. However, the final decision of how to vote the proxy rests with the client.
Mutual Fund Clients.
For each Client Account that is a registered investment company the Firm votes all proxies after carefully considering proxy solicitation materials and other available facts, except when it abstains from voting as described below. The Firm instructs each custodian for a Mutual Fund client to deliver to the Firm all proxy solicitation materials that the custodian receives for that account. The Firm reviews the securities held in its Mutual Fund Accounts on a regular basis to confirm that the Firm receives copies of all proxy solicitation materials concerning such securities. The Firm marks each proxy solicitation with the date it is received by the Firm. The Firm will also monitor the positions it takes in ETFs holdings to ensure that it never holds more than 3% of the outstanding voting shares of the ETF. Should The Firm hold positions that exceed 3% of the outstanding voting shares of an ETF, The Firm will rely upon Mirror Voting for Proxies, ensuring the Funds vote its shares in the same proportion that all shares of the ETFs are voted, or in accordance with instructions received from fund shareholders.
The CCO makes all voting decisions on behalf of a Mutual Fund client based solely on the CCO's determination of the best interests of that Account. The Firm uses reasonable efforts to respond to each proxy solicitation by the deadline for such response.
The CCO may designate an appropriate Employee to be responsible for ensuring that all proxy statements are received and that the Firm responds to them in a timely manner.
1. Company Information. If the Firm is considering voting a proxy, it reviews all proxy solicitation materials it receives concerning securities held in a Mutual Fund Account. The Firm evaluates all such information and may seek additional information from the party soliciting the proxy and independent corroboration of such information when the Firm considers it appropriate and when it is reasonably available.
2. Proxy Voting Policies.
a. Guidelines. The Firm follows any proxy voting guidelines and procedures provided by Client Accounts for which the Firm votes proxies. If no guideline exists for a particular vote, the Firm votes FOR a proposal when it believes that the proposal serves the best interests of the Mutual Fund Account whose proxy is solicited because, on balance, the following factors predominate:
(i) If adopted, the proposal would have a positive economic effect on shareholder value;
(ii) If adopted, the proposal would pose no threat to existing rights of shareholders;
(iii) The dilution, if any, of existing shares that would result from adoption of the proposal is warranted by the benefits of the proposal; and
(iv) If adopted, the proposal would not limit or impair the accountability of management and the board of directors to shareholders.
b. The Firm votes AGAINST a proposal if it believes that, on balance, the following factors predominate:
(i) If adopted, the proposal would have an adverse economic effect on shareholder value;
(ii) If adopted, the proposal would limit the rights of shareholders in a manner or to an extent that is not warranted by the benefits of adoption of the proposal;
(iii) If adopted, the proposal would cause significant dilution of shares that is not warranted by the benefits of the proposal;
(iv) If adopted, the proposal would limit or impair accountability of management or the board of directors to shareholders; or
(v) The proposal is a shareholder initiative that the Firm believes wastes time and resources of the company or reflects the grievance of one individual.
c. Abstentions. The Firm abstains from voting proxies when it believes that it is appropriate. Usually, this occurs when the Firm believes that a proposal holds negative but non-quantifiable implications for shareholder value but may express a legitimate concern or, for accounts other than registered investment companies, when the Firm believes that a proposal will not have a material effect on the Firm's investment strategy for Mutual Fund Accounts.
3. Conflicts of Interest. Due to the size and nature of the Firm's operations and the Firm's limited affiliations in the securities industry, the Firm does not expect that material conflicts of interest will arise between the Firm and a Mutual Fund Account over proxy voting. The Firm recognizes, however, that such conflicts may arise from time to time, such as, for example, when the Firm or one of its affiliates has a business arrangement that could be affected by the outcome of a proxy vote or has a personal or business relationship with a person seeking appointment or re-appointment as a director of a company. If a material conflict of interest arises, the Firm will vote all proxies in accordance with Part VII.A.2. The Firm will not place its own interests ahead of the interests of its Mutual Fund Accounts in voting proxies.
If the Firm determines that the proxy voting policies in Part VII.2 do not adequately address a material conflict of interest related to a proxy, it will provide the affected Client Account with copies of all proxy solicitation materials that the Firm receives with respect to that proxy, notify that Client Account of the actual or potential conflict of interest and of the Firm's intended response to the proxy request (which response will be in accordance with the policies set forth in Part VI.A.2(b)), and request that the Client Account consent to the Firm's intended response. If the Client Account consents to the Firm's intended response or fails to respond to the notice within a reasonable period of time specified in the notice, the Firm will vote the proxy as described in the notice. If the Client Account objects to the intended response, the Firm will vote the proxy as directed by the Client Account.
4. Disclosures to Clients. The Firm includes in Part 2A of its Form ADV (1) a summary of these policies and procedures relating to proxy voting, (2) an offer to provide a copy of such policies and procedures to clients on request, and (3) information concerning how a client may obtain a report summarizing how the Firm voted proxies on behalf of such client. At the request of a Client Account
or Investor (other than a Client Account that is a registered investment company under the ICA (a "Registered Fund")), the Firm provides that Client Account or Investor with a copy of this Part VII and a report summarizing all proxy solicitations the Firm received with respect to that Client Account during the period requested and action taken by the Firm on each such proxy. Regarding the proxy votes in respect of the portfolio securities in a Registered Fund, the Firm will provide that Registered Fund with the information required to be disclosed by that Registered Fund pursuant to Rule 30bl-4 of the ICA and SEC Form N-PX promulgated thereunder, including:
a. The name of the issuer of the portfolio security;
b. The exchange ticker symbol of the portfolio security;
c. The CUSP number for the portfolio security (unless not available through reasonable practical means, e.g., in the case of certain foreign issuers);
d. The shareholder meeting date;
e. A brief identification of the matter voted on;
f. Whether the matter was proposed by the issuer or by a security holder;
g. Whether the Firm cast its vote on the matter;
h. How the Firm cast its vote (e.g., for or against proposal, or abstain; for or withhold regarding election of directors); and
i. Whether the Firm cast its vote for or against management.
See the Firm’s Books and Records policy regarding Records that the Firm must maintain relating to these.