Firms, in general, must comply with FINRA Rule 2210 when communicating with the public, including communications with retail and institutional investors. The rule establishes standards for the content, approval, recordkeeping and filing of communications with FINRA.
FINRA’s Advertising Regulation Department reviews firms’ advertisements and other communications with the public to ensure they are fair, balanced, not misleading and comply with the standards of the SEC, MSRB and SIPC advertising rules. The department reviews more than 100,000 communications every year that are submitted either as required by FINRA’s rules or voluntarily by firms.
After reviewing the communications, the department provides firms with written commentary and if it finds egregious violations of the rules, the staff will instruct a firm to cease using the communication and may refer the matter for disciplinary action.
Categories of Communications
There are three categories of firm communications defined and regulated by FINRA Rule 2210.
- Retail communication involves any written communication, including electronic, distributed or made available to more than 25 retail investors within any 30 calendar-day period.
- Correspondence consists of the above but is limited to 25 or fewer retail investors.
- Institutional communication means any written communication, including electronic, distributed or made available only to institutional investors, such as banks, insurance companies and registered investment companies, among others. A firm’s internal communications are not covered by this definition.
Learn the filing and approval requirements of each communication category.
FINRA’s Advertising Regulation Department periodically reviews communications that have not been previously filed or subject to the filing requirements from select groups of firms. These targeted exams, or sweeps, generally target areas of regulatory concern, such as a new type of product, or an investor protection issue such as how a firm is using social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs) in the conduct of its business.
If a review reveals any rule violations, the department will provide a written Review Letter to the firm and look into the preparation and use of the material. It also may refer the matter for disciplinary action.
Submitting Communications for Review
Firms can file communications for review via Advertising Regulation Electronic Files (AREF), an online application. In addition, firms can use AREF to view, print and save the department’s review letters. The vast majority of communications are filed electronically through AREF. However, firms still wishing to submit hard copies must use the Filing Cover Sheet.
For more details about the system, please see the Advertising Regulation Electronic Files page.
|Advertising Regulation Conference||Industry||02-23-2015|
|2014 Advertising Regulation Conference||Education||10-12-2014|
|Regulatory Notice 14-35|
FINRA Requests Comment on a Revised Proposal to Adopt Consolidated FINRA Rule 2231 (Customer Account Statements)
|Regulatory Notice 14-30|
SEC Approves Amendments to FINRA Rule 2210 to Exclude Research Reports on Exchange-Listed Securities From Filing Requirements and Clarify the Standards Applicable to Free Writing Prospectuses
|Regulatory Notice 14-24|
April 2014 Supplement to the Security Futures Risk Disclosure Statement
|Regulatory Notice 14-19|
FINRA Requests Comment on a Revised Proposal to Require a Hyperlink to BrokerCheck in Online Retail Communications With the Public
|Regulatory Notice 14-14|
FINRA Requests Comment on the Effectiveness and Efficiency of its Communications With the Public Rules
|FINRA Fines LPL Financial LLC $950,000 for Supervisory Failures Related to Sales of Alternative Investments||News Release||03-24-2014|
|Regulatory Notice 14-11|
SEC Approves Amendments to Uniform Branch Office Registration Form (Form BR)
|Regulatory Notice 14-10|
SEC Approves New Supervision Rules
|FINRA Fines Berthel Fisher and Affiliate, Securities Management & Research, $775,000 for Supervisory Failures Related to Sales of Non-Traded REITs and Leveraged and Inverse ETFs||News Release||02-23-2014|
|FINRA Orders Stifel, Nicolaus and Century Securities to Pay Fines and Restitution Totaling More Than $1 Million for Unsuitable Sales of Leveraged and Inverse ETFs, and Related Supervisory Deficiencies||News Release||01-08-2014|
|Regulatory Notice 13-45|
FINRA Reminds Firms of Their Responsibilities Concerning IRA Rollovers
|Suitability: Effective Practices||Podcast||12-16-2013|
|FINRA Fines Oppenheimer $675,000 and Orders Restitution of More Than $246,000 for Charging Unfair Prices in Municipal Securities Transactions and for Supervisory Violations||News Release||12-08-2013|
|FINRA Orders J.P. Turner to Pay More Than $700,000 in Restitution for Unsuitable Sales of Leveraged and Inverse ETFs and for Excessive Mutual Fund Switching||News Release||12-04-2013|
|Regulatory Notice 13-34|
FINRA Requests Comment on Proposed Funding Portal Rules and Related Forms
|Communications with the Public: Retail and IRA Fee Disclosure||Podcast||10-14-2013|
|Communications With the Public: Real Estate Investment Programs||Podcast||07-22-2013|
|Regulatory Notice 13-23|
FINRA Provides Guidance on Disclosure of Fees in Communications Concerning Retail Brokerage Accounts and Individual Retirement Accounts
|Electronic Communications with the Public – Part 2||Podcast||06-09-2013|
|Electronic Communications with the Public – Part 1||Podcast||05-28-2013|
|LPL to Pay $9 Million for Systemic Email Failures and for Making Misstatements to FINRA||News Release||05-20-2013|
|Regulatory Notice 13-18|
FINRA Provides Guidance on Communications With the Public Concerning Unlisted Real Estate Investment Programs
|Interpretive Letter to Bradley J. Swenson, ALPS Distributors, Inc.||Rule Letter||04-21-2013|