What Is SEC Form NSAR-A?

SEC Form NSAR-A was a semi-annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that registered the financial information of investment management companies at the end of the first six months of their fiscal year (FY) as part of their N-SAR form filing requirement. The form was phased out in 2018, and replaced with Form N-CEN.

Key Takeaways:

  • SEC Form NSAR-A was a semi-annual filing with the SEC that registered the financial information of investment management companies at the end of the first six months of their fiscal year.
  • The form included financial information such as sales of shares, portfolio turnover rate, and other data included in the company's shareholder reports.
  • In 2018, SEC Form NSAR-A was replaced by Form N-CEN.

Understanding SEC Form NSAR-A

The N-SAR was specific to registered investment management companies, requiring them to disclose financial information, such as sales of shares, and portfolio turnover rate, included in the company's annual or semi-annual shareholder reports.

SEC Form NSAR-A and all of its related filings were covered under Section 30 of the Investment Company Act of 1940 and Sections 13 and 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which each require investment companies and trusts to file semi-annual and annual reports with the SEC.

In addition to financial information, the form also provided some details on an investment management company's leadership, advisors, underwriters, and affiliations. The form was instituted to protect investors by providing basic information so that they could choose a company they trust with their investments.

Form N-SAR and its associated filings are no longer required to be filed by investment companies, although the SEC accepted Forms N-SAR, and amendments to previously filed Forms N-SAR, up until June 1, 2019.

SEC Form NSAR-A vs. SEC Form N-CEN

SEC Form N-CEN was introduced to modernize investment company reporting. Though it contains many of the same elements present in SEC Form NSAR-A, it also replaced or eliminated outdated items found in the old form with more relevant ones. Many of the changes were made to reflect current needs, including information regarding securities lending and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Another notable change was the time period covered. SEC Form N-CEN should be filed annually, rather than every six months, and submitted within 75 days of the end of the fund’s FY.

All registered investment companies are required to file the new N-CEN document in Extensible Markup Language (XML) format. However, as an alternative, an online web-based form that can be manually inputted has also been made available on the SEC's Electronic Document Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) system.

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  1. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Investment Company Reporting Modernization Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed Nov. 20, 2020.

  2. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Form N-SAR," General Instructions Pages 1 and 27. Accessed Nov. 20, 2020.