Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Upcoming Changes to Registered Investment Adviser Disclosures

The SEC and the States have come out with their joint effort on the Final Rule for Registered Investment Advisers known as IA-3060. This final rule has a couple of clauses in it that will dictate more disclosures for both Registered Investment Adviser firms and their Investment Adviser Representatives.

The firms will now have to explain the risks associated with what they primarily invest in for their clients. Form ADV II Part 2A (Brochure), Item 8.C. of the rule reads says "If you recommend primarily a particular type of security, explain the material risks involved. If the type of security involves significant or unusual risks, discuss these risks in detail."

In my case, I primarily recommend Exchange Traded Funds or ETF's. My interpretation of this clause is that I will need to provide a summary of the significant types of risks in detail. To me, this means a summary of items like Stock Market Risk, Country/Regional Risk, Emerging Markets Risk, Currency Risk, Index Sampling Risk, Interest Rate Risk, Income Risk, Credit Risk, Sovereign Debt Risk and Stock Exchange or OTC (Over-the-Counter) Risk. It also means that ETF's are not guaranteed or insured. This new disclosure requirement is good in that it makes people understand more about the risks of investing in general.

Another interesting item in the required disclosure for the actual person giving the investment advice. In the past, you did not have to disclose your disciplinary history unless your were an officer of a Registered Investment Adviser firm. Now, as a result of this new SEC rule, all disciplinary history will not have to be disclosed in writing in the Brochure Supplement. This is surely going to "separate the wheat from the shaft" so to speak. My experience is that there are numerous financial advisers and insurance agents who have had some type of complaint on their record. I personally will be curious to see how they explain themselves and their records going forward.

Also, there is a clause that says if you say that you have a financial designation to your clients, then you must disclose the requirements for obtaining that designation. This means the minimum qualifications to obtain the designation. Although this will also add more pages to the required disclosure Form ADV Part 2B (Brochure Supplement) for Investment Adviser Representatives, it will give the client the ability to look at the designation and see if it is "something of value" as stated in the SEC rule. The end result is that the Investment Adviser Representatives with financial designations will have more pages of disclosures than those who do not hold a financial designation.

All in all, these new items will be beneficial for clients who are looking at Registered Investment Adviser firms (Brochure) and their Investment Adviser Representatives (Brochure Supplement), although you may have twenty plus pages to read.