Initial Determination: State, Federal, or Exempt

At Hardin Compliance, our compliance experts help new advisers determine whether your firm should be filing as an investment adviser with a specific state (or states), with the SEC, or as an Exempt Reporting Adviser. We also work with existing advisers on how to appropriately change their filing status as a result of an acquisition, merger, or corporate reorganization.

Our experienced staff has helped many advisers with Investment Adviser Registration, and we can walk your firm through the process confidently and quickly.

Form ADV Part 1 (online)

Form ADV Part 1 is filed online through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) system and discloses important information about your firm.

The Form ADV Part 1A is the initial filing that allows you to file the Form ADV Part 2A (the Firm Brochure).

At Hardin, we help you gain access to the IARD system and work with your firm to complete the Form ADV Part 1A and accompanying schedules, including Schedule A (Ownership information), Schedule B (Indirect Ownership Information), and Schedule D (Additional disclosures items for Form ADV Part 1A that include private fund information, branch offices and affiliated entity disclosures).

Form ADV Part 2A (online filing and PDF)

Form ADV Part 2A is the primary disclosure document that discusses your firm’s services, fees, investment offerings, assets under management, and other important information.

Hardin works with you to draft a Form ADV Part 2A. This form discusses your firm’s business practices, investment processes, services, fees and other important information required by the appropriate jurisdiction, either state or SEC.

Form U-4 (online)

Form U-4 is filed with the appropriate state(s) to register an individual as an Investment Adviser Representative with a Registered Investment Adviser firm.

This filing is made using FINRA’s WebCRD system. This firm includes disclosure about the individual’s employment history, outside business activities, and disciplinary history. Hardin advises your firm whether registration is required for an IAR, as well as in which jurisdictions the IAR should be registered.

Form ADV Part 2B (pdf)

Form ADV Part 2B is a disclosure document that investment adviser representatives generally provide to their clients. It includes educational background, employment history, information about potential conflicts of interest, and disciplinary issues.

Hardin assists you in preparing this disclosure document and in determining which members of your firm should be providing it to your clients.

Advertising/Marketing Review

Advertising and marketing are areas of great risk for investment advisers.

Marketing materials are highly scrutinized by regulators, so it’s important to get it right; however, the SEC’s rules can be vague and confusing. Our consultants have reviewed hundreds of marketing pieces and are well-versed in the SEC’s advertising rules and interpretations.

We are well equipped to review your firm’s advertising pieces and provide comments and suggestions quickly, in many cases on the same day.

Whether you need on-going assistance, require temporary help, or want support for less-experienced staff, our team can help. Here is a sample of the types of the marketing materials we review:

  • Websites and blog posts
  • Client Presentations
  • RFPs
  • Pitchbooks
  • Form ADV Part 2A disclosure
  • Disclosures for performance advertising

Hardin can also help your firm establish policies and procedures for marketing review, as well as provide training on these policies to your marketing staff.

For more on the potential pitfalls of advertising, check out our blog post, where we discuss the SEC’s risk alert  on the Most Frequent Advertising Rule Compliance Issue:

At the top of the list were misleading performance advertisements. Not surprisingly, many of OCIE’s comments were directed at advisers that failed to state that performance shown was gross of advisory fees, or included a benchmark without discussing the limitations of the comparison. Advisers using hypothetical and back-tested performance received black marks for failing to explain how the returns were derived. False claims of compliance with the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS®) were also noted. Additionally, firms were cited for failing to have policies and procedures in place for review of marketing materials prior to publication/dissemination.

Other major issues included “misleading use of third party rankings or awards.” OCIE nailed advisors for publishing stale rankings, or claiming to be award winners without providing details such as who created and conducted the survey, how many advisers participated, and whether the adviser paid a fee to be included. OCIE also found that disclosing professional designations could also be misleading if the adviser failed to include a description of the minimum qualifications required to achieve the designation. Finally, OCIE reminded advisers to refrain from publishing client endorsements on the firm website or on social media platforms.

For more information, call our main office at 724-935-6770 or visit our Contact Us page today.