The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is continuing to overhaul the rules that govern members’ communications with the public.
FINRA has published the proposed changes in Regulatory Notice 09-55.
The proposed rules would would replace current NASD Rules 2210 and 2211, the “interpretive materials” that follow NASD Rule 2210, and parts of Incorporated NYSE Rule 472.
FINRA notes that it will release a separate proposal, regarding changes in the public communications rules that govern variable life insurance and variable annuity products, “in the near future.”
The proposal now on the FINRA website would reduce the number of communication categories for all products to 3, from 6.
The new categories would be “institutional sales material,” “retail communications” and “correspondence.”
The correspondence category “would include any written (including electronic) communication that is distributed or made available to 25 or fewer retail investors, regardless of whether they are existing or prospective customers,” officials say.
The proposal would eliminate the current definitions of “advertisement,” “sales literature,” “institutional sales material,” “public appearance” and “independently prepared reprint.”
The proposed rule would require “an appropriately qualified registered principal of the firm” to approve each retail communication before the communication was used or filed with FINRA.
“The principal registration required to approve particular communications would depend upon the permissible activities for each principal registration category,” officials say.
The content standards that now apply to advertisements and sales literature generally would apply to retail communications, officials say.
One proposed paragraph would add new language “concerning comparative illustrations of the mathematical principles of tax-deferred versus taxable compounding,” officials say.
Originally, FINRA included that advice in guidance aimed at sellers of variable annuity and variable life products.
Now, by putting the advice in a section that applies to all FINRA products, “FINRA is clarifying that these standards apply to any illustration of tax-deferred versus taxable compounding, regardless of whether it appears in a communication promoting variable insurance products or some other communication, such as one discussing the benefits of investing through a 401(k) retirement plan or individual retirement account,” officials say.
Comments on the proposed changes are due Nov. 20.