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Research Analyst Rules

The aim of FINRA's equity and debt research analyst and research report rules is to foster objectivity and transparency in research reports and public appearances and provide investors with more reliable and useful information to make investment decisions. 

In general, FINRA's equity and debt research rules require clear, comprehensive and prominent disclosure of conflicts of interest in research reports and public appearances by research analysts. The rules further prohibit certain conduct where the conflicts are considered too pronounced to be cured by disclosure. Several of the equity research rules' provisions implement provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 ("Sarbanes-Oxley"), which mandates separation between research and investment banking, proscribes conduct that could compromise a research analyst's objectivity and requires specific disclosures in research reports and public appearances. FINRA's equity research rules also conform to the JOBS Act (The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act) of 2012.

The following FINRA rules apply to research analysts, research reports, and the registration of research analysts and research principals. 

Research Analysts and Research Reports

FINRA Rule 2241- Research Analysts and Research Reports
This rule governs conflicts of interest in connection with the publication of equity research reports and public appearances by research analysts.  The rule requires firms to establish and implement policies and procedures to identify and manage research-related conflicts of interest. Among other things, the policies must separate research from investment banking with respect to supervision of research analysts, budget determinations and compensation of analysts.  The rule further prohibits promises of favorable research and analyst participation in solicitation of investment banking business and road shows.  The rule also requires disclosure of investment banking and other material conflicts of interest, such as personal and firm ownership of a subject company's securities. 

FINRA Rule 2242 - Debt Research Analysts and Debt Research Reports
This rule governs conflicts of interest in connection with the publication of debt research reports and public appearances by debt research analysts.  The rule imposes requirements similar to Rule 2241 on debt research distributed to retail investors, with some modifications to reflect the unique nature of the debt markets.  The rule specifies the prohibited and permissible interactions between the debt research personnel and sales and trading and principal trading personnel.  The rule also exempts from many of its provisions and all of the specific disclosure requirements debt research that is distributed only to eligible institutional investors. 

Research Analyst Registration

NASD Rule 1050 - Registration of Research Analysts and Incorporated NYSE Rule 344 – Research Analysts and Supervisory Analysts

These rules require equity research analysts to be registered with FINRA and pass a qualification examination or obtain a waiver.  The Series 86 / 87 - Research Analyst Qualification Examinations (RS) assess the competency of an entry-level equity research analyst candidate to perform the critical job functions of a research analyst, including preparing and analyzing equity securities or individual companies and industry sector research reports. 

There currently is no equivalent requirement for debt research analysts.

Research Principal Registration

NASD Rule 1022(a)(5) – General Securities Principal (Equity Research) 
This rule requires supervisors of equity research analysts and supervisory analysts to register as a Research Principal and pass the appropriate qualification examinations (i.e., the Series 24 plus either the Series 16 or the Series 87). 

SEC Approves Consolidated Rule to Address Conflicts of Interest Relating to the Publication and Distribution of Equity Research Reports
August 26, 2015
SEC Approves Rule to Address Conflicts of Interest Relating to the Publication and Distribution of Debt Research Reports
August 26, 2015
SEC Approves Amendments to NASD Rule 2711 and Incorporated NYSE Rule 472 to Conform to JOBS Act Requirements
November 1, 2012
FINRA Provides Guidance on Prohibition Against Offering Favorable Research to Induce Investment Banking Business
September 12, 2011
FINRA Requests Comment on Proposed Research Registration and Conflict of Interest Rules
October 14, 2008
Foreign Research Analyst Exemption from the Research Analyst Qualification Examination
April 7, 2008
Member Firm Disclosure and Supervisory Review Obligations
April 7, 2008
Codification of Interpretations to Rule 2711;
January 24, 2007
SEC Approves Amendments to Rule 2711 to Prohibit Research Analysts from Participating in a Road Show and from Communicating with Customers in the Presence of Investment Banking Personnel or Company Management about an Investment Banking Services Transaction
May 3, 2005
NASD Announces Exemption from the Research Analyst Qualification Requirements (Series 86 and 87) for Certain Employees of Foreign Affiliates Who Contribute to Member Research Reports
April 4, 2005
NASD Announces Exemption from the Analysis Portion of the Research Analyst Qualification Examination (Series 86) for Certain Applicants Who Prepare Only "Technical Research Reports"
February 17, 2005
SEC Approves New NASD Qualification Requirements for Supervisors of Research Analysts
November 10, 2004
SEC Approves New NASD Research Analyst Qualification and Examination Requirements (Series 86/87)
March 30, 2004
NASD and NYSE Provide Further Guidance on Rules Governing Research Analysts' Conflicts of Interest
March 9, 2004
SEC Approves Amendments to Rules Governing Research Analysts' Conflicts of Interest
August 3, 2003
For Your Information
October 31, 2002
NASD Requests Comment on Application of Rule 2711 to Small Firms
July 26, 2002
SEC Approves Rule Governing Research Analysts Conflicts of Interest
June 26, 2002
FAQ
Following are FAQs about FINRA’s research conflicts of interest rules.
March 4, 2016
Interpretive Letter

NASD Rule 2711 - Research Analysts and Research Reports

February 8, 2013
Interpretive Letter

Joint NASD and NYSE interpretation that individuals involved in the development of certain quantitative equity research ratings model are not “research analysts” as defined by the SRO research analyst conflict of interest rules.

August 20, 2004