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IM-2210-1. Guidelines to Ensure That Communications With the Public Are Not Misleading

This rule is no longer applicable. NASD IM-2210-1 has been superseded by FINRA Rule 2210. Please consult the appropriate FINRA Rule.

Every member is responsible for determining whether any communication with the public, including material that has been filed with the Department, complies with all applicable standards, including the requirement that the communication not be misleading. In order to meet this responsibility, member communications with the public must conform with the following guidelines. These guidelines do not represent an exclusive list of considerations that a member must make in determining whether a communication with the public complies with all applicable standards.
(1) Members must ensure that statements are not misleading within the context in which they are made. A statement made in one context may be misleading even though such a statement could be appropriate in another context. An essential test in this regard is the balanced treatment of risks and potential benefits. Member communications should be consistent with the risks of fluctuating prices and the uncertainty of dividends, rates of return and yield inherent to investments.
(2) Members must consider the nature of the audience to which the communication will be directed. Different levels of explanation or detail may be necessary depending on the audience to which a communication is directed. Members must keep in mind that it is not always possible to restrict the audience that may have access to a particular communication with the public. Additional information or a different presentation of information may be required depending upon the medium used for a particular communication and the possibility that the communication will reach a larger or different audience than the one initially targeted.
(3) Member communications must be clear. A statement made in an unclear manner can cause a misunderstanding. A complex or overly technical explanation may be more confusing than too little information.
(4) In communications with the public, income or investment returns may not be characterized as tax-free or exempt from income tax when tax liability is merely postponed or deferred, such as when taxes are payable upon redemption.
(5) In advertisements and sales literature, references to tax-free or tax-exempt income must indicate which income taxes apply, or which do not, unless income is free from all applicable taxes. For example, if income from an investment company investing in municipal bonds is subject to state or local income taxes, this fact must be stated, or the illustration must otherwise make it clear that income is free only from federal income tax.
(6) Recommendations
(A) In making a recommendation in advertisements and sales literature, whether or not labeled as such, a member must have a reasonable basis for the recommendation and must disclose any of the following situations which are applicable:
(i) that at the time the advertisement or sales literature was published, the member was making a market in the securities being recommended, or in the underlying security if the recommended security is an option or security future, or that the member or associated persons will sell to or buy from customers on a principal basis;
(ii) that the member and/or its officers or partners have a financial interest in any of the securities of the issuer whose securities are recommended, and the nature of the financial interest (including, without limitation, whether it consists of any option, right, warrant, future, long or short position), unless the extent of the financial interest is nominal;
(iii) that the member was manager or co-manager of a public offering of any securities of the recommended issuer within the past 12 months.
(B) The member shall also provide, or offer to furnish upon request, available investment information supporting the recommendation. Recommendations on behalf of corporate equities must provide the price at the time the recommendation is made.
(C) A member may use material referring to past recommendations if it sets forth all recommendations as to the same type, kind, grade or classification of securities made by a member within the last year. Longer periods of years may be covered if they are consecutive and include the most recent year. Such material must also name each security recommended and give the date and nature of each recommendation (e.g., whether to buy or sell), the price at the time of the recommendation, the price at which or the price range within which the recommendation was to be acted upon, and indicate the general market conditions during the period covered.
(D) Also permitted is material that does not make any specific recommendation but which offers to furnish a list of all recommendations made by a member within the past year or over longer periods of consecutive years, including the most recent year, if this list contains all the information specified in subparagraph (C). Neither the list of recommendations, nor material offering such list, shall imply comparable future performance. Reference to the results of a previous specific recommendation, including such a reference in a follow-up research report or market letter, is prohibited if the intent or the effect is to show the success of a past recommendation, unless all of the foregoing requirements with respect to past recommendations are met.
Adopted by SR-NASD-2000-12 eff. Nov. 3, 2003.

Selected Notice: 03-38.