The USA defines an agent as any individual who represents a broker-dealer or an issuer in effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities for their clients. Agents are individuals in a sales capacity who represent broker-dealers or issuers of securities. As agents, they act, usually on commission basis, on behalf of others. Agents are often referred to as registered representatives, whether sell registered securities or securities exempt from registration. The use of the term individual here is important. Only an individual, or a natural person, can be an agent. A corporation such as a brokerage firm is not a natural person, it is a legal entity. The brokerage firm is the legal person, or legal entity, the agent, a natural person, represents in securities transactions.
All RIAs are required to register either with the SEC or a state securities regulator. In general, RIAs managing less than $100 million of assets register with their home state, while those managing more than $100 million register with the SEC. Both federal covered advisers and state registered advisers have requirements set for policies and procedures. While the requirements set are similar, some state regulations may be slightly different.
Part 2A of the Form ADV requires advisers to create narrative brochures containing information about the advisory firm. Both federal and state registered advisers must prepare and deliver a brochure to their clients. They both also have requirements set by the SEC and NASAA for timely updating their brochure
Rule 204-3, the brochure rule, is a requirement under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 that requires investment advisers to provide a written disclosure statement to their clients. The rule applies to all federally registered investment advisers and specifies times during the advisory process at which they must provide the materials. To satisfy this rule, adviser can either provide clients Part 2 of the Form ADV, or they can provide an actual brochure that contains the same information that would be found in Form ADV Part 2A and 2B.
Part 2 of the Form ADV consists of:
- Form ADV Part 2A: Firm Brochure
- Part 2A Appendix 1 of Form ADV: Wrap Fee Program Brochure
- Form ADV Part 2B: Brochure Supplement describing certain supervised persons.
This blog will cover Part 2A of Form ADV: Firm Brochure, for more information on Form ADV, check out our Form ADV blog now, or our Part 2A Appendix 1 of Form ADV: Wrap Fee Program Brochure and Part 2A of Form ADV: Firm Brochure blogs being posted soon.
For an investment adviser to qualify for an exemption from state registration, they have to either meet an exemption under the Investment Act of 1940, be a federal covered adviser, or be registered with the SEC. The Dodd-Frank Act has created 3 thresholds for investment advisers based of their assets under management (“AUM”) as well as some more general exclusions, all of which provide advisers the ability to register with the SEC.
The North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) recently adopted a new rule that will require Investment Advisor Representatives (“IARs”) to complete 12 credit hours of Continuing Education annually, 6 for IAR Ethics and Professional Responsibility Requirements and 6 for IAR Products and Practice Requirements. This will be the first time IARs have been subject to Continuing Education and as NASAA president Lisa A. Hopkins states, is intended to “promote heightened regulatory compliance while also helping investment adviser representatives better serve their clients by remaining knowledgeable of current regulatory requirements and best practices.”