Suitability obligations are critical to ensuring investor protection and promoting fair dealings with customers and ethical sales practices. FINRA Rule 2111 governs suitability obligations and took effect in July 2012.

FINRA Rule 2111 requires that a firm or associated person have a reasonable basis to believe a recommended transaction or investment strategy involving a security or securities is suitable for the customer. This is based on the information obtained through reasonable diligence of the firm or associated person to ascertain the customer’s investment profile.

The rule states that the customer’s investment profile “includes, but is not limited to, the customer’s age, other investments, financial situation and needs, tax status, investment objectives, investment experience, investment time horizon, liquidity needs [and] risk tolerance,” among other information. A broker’s “recommendation,” which is based on the facts and circumstances of a particular case, is the triggering event for application of the rule.

Brokers must have a firm understanding of both the product and the customer, according to Rule 2111. The lack of such an understanding itself violates the suitability rule.

Suitability Obligations

Also included in Rule 2111 are the three main suitability obligations for firms and associated persons.

  • Reasonable-basis suitability requires a broker to have a reasonable basis to believe, based on reasonable diligence, that the recommendation is suitable for at least some investors.
  • Reasonable diligence must provide the firm or associated person with an understanding of the potential risks and rewards of the recommended security or strategy.
  • Customer-specific suitability requires that a broker, based on a particular customer’s investment profile, has a reasonable basis to believe that the recommendation is suitable for that customer. The broker must attempt to obtain and analyze a broad array of customer-specific factors.
  • Quantitative suitability requires a broker with actual or de facto control over a customer’s account to have a reasonable basis for believing that a series of recommended transactions, even if suitable when viewed in isolation, is not excessive and unsuitable for the customer when taken together in light of the customer’s investment profile.

If you have questions about the suitability rule, please contact James S. Wrona, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Office of General Counsel (OGC) at (202) 728-8270 or Matthew E. Vitek, Associate General Counsel, OGC, at (202) 728-8156.

Below is information on general and product-specific suitability rules, guidance and regulatory notices. Also included are Investor Education resources and interpretive letters.

Titlesort descendingTypeDate
FINRA Orders RBC to Pay Fine and Restitution Totaling More Than $1.4 Million for Unsuitable Sales of Reverse Convertibles
FINRA found that RBC failed to have supervisory systems reasonably designed to identify transactions for supervisory review when reverse convertibles were sold to customers, in violation of FINRA's rules as well as the firm's own suitability guidelines.
News Release04-23-2015
FINRA Sanctions Brookville Capital Partners $1.5 Million and Bars President Anthony Lodati for Fraud
Firm Ordered to Pay Full Restitution of More Than $1 Million to Customers
News Release03-12-2015
FINRA Rule 2360(b)(19) (Options – Suitability)
Options – Suitability
FINRA Rule 2330 (Members' Responsibilities Regarding Deferred Variable Annuities)
Members' Responsibilities Regarding Deferred Variable Annuities
FINRA Rule 2111 (Suitability)
Regulatory Notice 13-45
FINRA Reminds Firms of Their Responsibilities Concerning IRA Rollovers
Suitability: Effective Practices
This podcast covers examination approaches, common findings, and effective practices for complying with FINRA’s suitability rule.
Regulatory Notice 13-31
FINRA Highlights Examination Approaches, Common Findings and Effective Practices for Complying With its Suitability Rule
Suitability and Know Your Customer
This webinar focuses on implementation of new FINRA Rules 2111 (suitability) and 2090 (know your customer), which become effective July 9, 2012
Interpretive Letter to Brian Sweeney, Trustmont Financial Group, Inc.
Request for Interpretive Guidance on FINRA Rule 2111 (Suitability) in Relation to EB-5 Program Securities Transactions
Rule Letter08-26-2013
Regulatory Notice 12-55
Guidance on FINRA’s Suitability Rule
FINRA Rule 2111 (Suitability) FAQ
This FAQ consolidates the questions and answers in Regulatory Notices 12-55, 12-25 and 11-25, organized by topic.
Regulatory Notice 12-25
Additional Guidance on FINRA’s New Suitability Rule
Regulatory Notice 12-03
Heightened Supervision of Complex Products
FINRA Rule 2370(b)(19) (Security Futures – Suitability)
Security Futures – Suitability
Suitability Guidance (Part 3)
This is the final podcast in a three-part series on additional guidance about FINRA's new consolidated suitability and know your customer rules.
Suitability Guidance (Part 2)
This podcast is the second in a three-part series on additional guidance about FINRA's new consolidated suitability and know your customer rules.
Suitability Guidance (Part 1)
This podcast is the first in a three-part series on additional guidance about FINRA's new consolidated suitability and know your customer rules.
FINRA Charges David Lerner & Associates With Soliciting Investors to Purchase REITs Without Fully Investigating Suitability; Lerner Marketed REITs on its Website With Misleading Returns
Washington, DC- The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has filed a complaint against David Lerner & Associates, Inc. (DLA), of Syosset, NY, charging the firm with soliciting investors to purchase shares in Apple REIT Ten, a non-traded $2 billion Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), without conducting a reasonable investigation to determine whether it was suitable for investors, and with providing misleading information
News Release05-31-2011
Regulatory Notice 11-25
New Implementation Date for and Additional Guidance on the Consolidated FINRA Rules Governing Know-Your-Customer and Suitability Obligations
Suitability and Know Your Customer Rules
FINRA staff highlights FINRA Rules 2111 (Suitability) and 2090 (Know Your Customer).
Regulatory Notice 11-02
SEC Approves Consolidated FINRA Rules Governing Know-Your-Customer and Suitability Obligations
Regulatory Notice 10-22
Obligation of Broker-Dealers to Conduct Reasonable Investigations in Regulation D Offerings
FINRA Rule 2310(b)(2) (Direct Participation Programs – Suitability)
Direct Participation Programs – Suitability
FINRA Rule 2353 (Trading in Index Warrants, Currency Index Warrants, and Currency Warrants – Suitability)
Trading in Index Warrants, Currency Index Warrants, and Currency Warrants – Suitability