William Blair & Company agreed to pay a fine of $4.5 million to resolve Securities and Exchange Commission charges that, from 2010 to 2014, it used mutual fund assets to pay for distribution and marketing expenses without authorization from the fund’s board of trustees, as required, and it retained a fee for providing certain shareholder administrative services to certain funds, without disclosure to shareholders. William Blair is registered as both a broker-dealer and an investment adviser with the SEC, and at all relevant times the firm served as IA to and a distributor of the relevant funds. Under SEC Rule, an open ended-fund, like a mutual fund, cannot act as a distributor of securities for which it serves as issuer, unless it has an express plan approved by the fund’s board or shareholders (a so-called 12b-1 plan; click here to access SEC Rule 12b-1) According to the SEC, William Blair previously paid back to the relevant funds all fees it received in error – US $1.25 million plus interest.