Advertising Regulation

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. Targeted Examinations 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.
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