Articles Tagged with Advertising

Pursuant to Section 206 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) and Rule 206(4)-1, it is considered fraud for a registered investment adviser to publish, circulate, or distribute any advertisement which contains any untrue statement of material fact or which is false or misleading. One type of advertising that has been the focus of recent regulatory activity is performance advertising.

Performance advertisements are generally used by investment advisers to portray their past performance results to prospective clients. In order to be avoid misleading the prospective client, all material facts regarding the performance data and how it was calculated must be disclosed. This includes disclosing any material market conditions, the amount of advisory fees or other expenses that were deducted, whether results portrayed include reinvested dividends and other earnings, the investment strategies which were used to obtain the results, and any other material fact which may have impacted the results in any way.
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On December 22, 2014, the SEC announced a settlement with F-Squared Investments (“F-Squared”) in which F-Squared will pay a civil penalty and disgorgement for violations of the anti-fraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act by advertising falsely inflated performance numbers of its most successful exchange traded fund (“ETF”) investment strategy. Under the terms of the settlement, F-Squared, the largest U.S. marketer of index products using ETFs, agreed to disgorge $30 million and pay a $5 million penalty.

In October 2008, F-squared, along with its co-founder and former CEO, developed an investment strategy called AlphaSector. AlphaSector used data received from an algorithm to decide whether or not to buy or sell nine industry-focused ETFs. The algorithm was developed by an intern at a private wealth advisory firm, who told F-Squared’s CEO that it had been used before to manage the private wealth advisor’s client assets. The intern sent F-Squared’s CEO three separate data sets of hypothetical, back-tested weekly trends for each of the ETFs. This data was then used by an F-Squared employee to calculate hypothetical back-tested results for AlphaSector from April 2001 to September 2008.
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On November 17th, the Texas State Securities Board’s Office of Inspections and Compliance charged Mowery Capital Management, LLC (“Mowery Capital”) and one of its investment adviser representatives (collectively “Respondents”) with fraud for failing to disclose certain conflicts of interests, charging excessive fees, plagiarizing advertising material, and other material misrepresentations. The complaint requests that the state Securities Commissioner revoke Respondents’ registration with the state, levy an administrative fine, and issue a cease and desist order prohibiting any further fraudulent behavior.

When registering as a registered investment adviser, a Form ADV must be completed and filed with the appropriate securities authority. Part 2 of the Form ADV, or the “Brochure,” acts as the primary disclosure document for clients and requires the applicant to write in plain English general information about the business (i.e. types of services offered, fee schedule, business and educational background of employees), including any possible conflicts of interest the applicant may have.
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