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Marketing Compliance Frequently Asked Questions

March 18, 2021

Updated April 14, 2021

The staff of the Division of Investment Management has prepared the following responses to questions related to the adoption of amendments to rule 206(4)-1 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 in December 2020. The staff expects to update this document from time to time to include responses to additional questions. These responses represent the views of the staff of the Division of Investment Management. They are not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”). The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved these FAQs or the answers to these FAQs. The FAQs, like all staff guidance, have no legal force or effect: they do not alter or amend applicable law, and they create no new or additional obligations for any person.

The adopting release for the amendments to rule 206(4)-1 is available at https://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2020/ia-5653.pdf. If you have questions, please contact the IM Investment Adviser Regulation Office at (202) 551-6787 or IM-Rules@sec.gov.

Q: I understand that an adviser must comply with the amended adviser marketing rule with respect to its advertising and solicitation activities by the compliance date (November 4th, 2022), which is 18 months after the effective date of the rule. May an adviser choose to comply with some of the marketing rule requirements before the compliance date, but not comply with others?

A:  No. An adviser may choose to comply with the amended marketing rule in its entirety any time starting on the effective date, May 4th, 2021. Until an adviser transitions to the amended marketing rule, the adviser would continue to comply with the previous advertising and cash solicitation rules and look to the staff’s positions under those rules. The staff believes an adviser may not cease complying with the previous advertising rule and instead comply with the amended marketing rule but still rely on the previous cash solicitation rule. Advisers are reminded that they should review their compliance policies and procedures in light of regulatory developments, including the adoption of the amended marketing rule. In addition, the staff believes that when advisers transition to the amended marketing rule, they will need to implement any revisions to the written compliance policies and procedures necessary so that they are reasonably designed to prevent violations of the amended marketing rule. Advisers are also reminded that they are required to maintain a copy of all compliance policies and procedures in effect at any time within the previous five years, and that it should be clear when those policies and procedures were in effect.

Q: The marketing rule prohibits an adviser from displaying performance results in an advertisement, unless certain requirements are satisfied. For example, an advertisement, except for an advertisement that includes private fund performance information, must include performance results for prescribed time periods ending on a date that is no less recent than the most recent calendar year-end. My firm is not able to calculate its one-, five-, and ten-year performance data immediately following a calendar year-end, but anticipates having updated performance figures within one month of the calendar year-end. However, my firm has performance information that is current as of the third quarter of that calendar year (“interim performance information”). May my firm instead use the interim performance information in an advertisement?

A: The staff would not object if you are unable to calculate your one-, five-, and ten-year performance data in accordance with rule 206(4)-1(d)(2) immediately following a calendar year-end and you use performance information that is at least as current as the interim performance information in an advertisement until you can comply with the calendar year-end requirement. The staff believes that a reasonable period of time to calculate performance results based on the most recent calendar year-end generally would not exceed one month. The interim performance information remains subject to the other provisions of the marketing rule, including the general prohibitions.

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