SEC staff no-action letter, Mandell Financial Group
Pub. Avail. May 21, 1997
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
May 21, 1997
RESPONSE OF THE OFFICE OF CHIEF COUNSEL
DIVISION OF INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT
Mr. Brad Mankowski
Mandell Financial Group
151 W. Passaic Street
Rochelle Park, NJ 07662
Dear Mr. Mankowski:
Thank you for your letter dated April 10, 1997. In your letter, you state that your firm is registered with the Commission under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”). You inquire whether you are required by the Advisers Act to identify your firm as a “Registered Investment Adviser” on its stationery and business cards.
The Advisers Act does not require an adviser registered with the Commission to include the phrase “Registered Investment Adviser” on its stationery, business cards, or other materials, although the staff of the Commission generally does not object if a registered investment adviser makes this representation.1 In fact, Section 208 of the Advisers Act specifically provides that a registered adviser is not prohibited from stating that it is registered under the Advisers Act, provided that the statement is true and the effect of such registration is not misrepresented.
The phrase “Registered Investment Adviser” may not be used to state or imply that an investment adviser has a level of professional competence, education or other special training. Whether the use of the phrase “Registered Investment Adviser” in any particular case is misleading depends upon the facts and circumstances surrounding its use.2
I hope that this information has been helpful. If you have any additional questions, please contact this office at (202) 942-0659.
Brendan C. Fox
1 Indian Fiduciary Services, Inc. (pub. avail. May 26, 1978).
2 For example, the staff has taken the position that the use of the initials “RIA” or “R.I.A.” after a person's name would be misleading because: 1) these initials have no generally understood meaning; 2) initials after a name usually indicate a degree or a licensed professional position for which there are certain qualifications; and 3) there are no qualifications for becoming a registered investment adviser. Securities and Syndication Review (pub. avail. Feb. 16, 1984).
MANDELL FINANCIAL GROUP
ESTATE PRESERVATION° RETIREMENT PLANNING°TAX PLANNING°INVESTMENT PLANNING
151 W. Passaic Street
Rochelle Park, NJ 07662
201-909-3740/ 800-554-3332/ 201-587-9884 - Fax
April 10, 1997
Securities and Exchange Commission
Chief Counsel - Division of Investment Management
450 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20549
Dear Sir or Madam:
Help! I recently spoke with your associate, Brendan Fox, regarding an issue which will be addressed in this letter. He was very helpful and his response to my question, I believe, was accurate. I would like to put this debate I've been having with my colleagues and professional associations “to bed”. Also, as an instructor in the CFP department at Fairleigh Dickinson University, I believe it's important to have the facts, so I may convey the correct information to my students. I asked Mr. Fox if I can get a written response to my question. He suggested I write to SEC's Chief Council.
It is my understanding that we may include “Registered Investment Adviser” on our stationary, providing, of course, we are registered as one with the SEC. The question is..., is it mandatory?
Q. Must we write Registered Investment Adviser on all of our stationary and business cards under our name and firm name?
My firm, for example, specializes in estate planning and preservation through the use of trusts and proper titling of assets. We lecture at local libraries and AARP meetings on a regular basis. If we include the phrase “Registered Investment Adviser” on our estate planning materials, our guests would suspect they were attending nothing more than a disguised “sales pitch” and were going to be pitched investment products. This could not be further from the truth.
We include the “tag” line “Estate Preservation Strategies” or “Sound Asset Accumulation and Preservation Strategies” under our firm name. We believe Registered Investment Adviser, under these circumstances, would be misleading. All clients are given Form ADV Part II which fully discloses our financial planning procedures as well as any affiliation with a broker/dealer.
We are eager to learn the SEC's position on the above question so we can put this debate behind us. A prompt response will be greatly appreciated.
Brad Mankowski, CFP, CFS, AAMS
Chief Financial Adviser
SEC File # 801-43808