Washington D.C., Dec. 22, 2020 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced it had finalized reforms under the Investment Advisers Act to modernize rules that govern investment adviser advertisements and payments to solicitors. The amendments create a single rule that replaces the current advertising and cash solicitation rules. The final rule is designed to comprehensively and efficiently regulate investment advisers’ marketing communications.
In the decades since the adoption of the current rules, advertising and referral practices have evolved. The technology used for communications has advanced, the expectations of investors seeking advisory services have changed, and the profiles of the investment advisory industry have diversified. The new marketing rule recognizes these changes and the Commission’s experience administering the current rules. The reforms will allow advisers to provide investors with useful information as they choose among investment advisers and advisory services, subject to conditions that are reasonably designed to prevent fraud.
“The marketing rule reflects important updates to the traditional advertising and solicitation regimes, which have not been amended for decades, despite our evolving financial markets and technology,” said Chairman Jay Clayton. “This comprehensive framework for regulating advisers’ marketing communications recognizes the increasing use of electronic media and mobile communications and will serve to improve the quality of information available to investors. The new rule provides for an extended compliance period intended to provide advisers with a sufficient transition period, including to enable consultation with the Commission’s expert staff.”
The rule replaces the current advertising rule’s broadly drawn limitations with principles-based provisions designed to accommodate the continual evolution and interplay of technology and advice, and includes tailored requirements for certain types of advertisements. For example, the rule will require advisers to standardize certain parts of a performance presentation in order to help investors evaluate and compare investment opportunities, and will include tailored requirements for certain types of performance presentations. Advertisements that include third-party ratings will be required to include specific disclosures to prevent them from being misleading. The rule also will permit the use of testimonials and endorsements, which include traditional referral and solicitation activity, subject to certain conditions.
Finally, the Commission adopted related amendments to the investment adviser registration form and the books and records rule. The staff of the Division of Investment Management also expects to withdraw no-action letters and other guidance addressing the application of the advertising and cash solicitation rules. A list of the letters will be available on SEC.gov.