In my most recent blog posting, I wrote about the history of the Form ADV, and about the July 2010 decision by the SEC to require a new Form ADV Part II. In that blog, I mentioned that this is not a cosmetic change, but a true overhaul. Here is my second big-picture observation about the new Part II.
This is not a regulation that only compliance officers should fret about.
Advisory firms will be required to file their brochures electronically in PDF format and the most recent version of the brochure will be publicly available on the SEC’s website. The SEC, other regulators, the media, your clients (both current and prospective), all of your competitors, and anyone else with a computer will have instant access to your firm’s brochure. This means that every principal in your firm should be concerned about the content and accuracy of the brochure. But look on the bright side. If it’s done right, the new brochure could present a great marketing opportunity for firms that have their act together. It allows them to describe what their firm does, how it understands potential problems and deals with them, and why they should be entrusted with the job of providing investment advice to others.