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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 21. Securities and Retail Franchising
Agency 5. State Corporation Commission, Division of Securities and Retail Franchising
Chapter 80. Investment Advisors
5/23/2018

21VAC5-80-200. Dishonest or Unethical Practices.

A. An investment advisor or federal covered advisor is a fiduciary and has a duty to act primarily for the benefit of his clients. While the extent and nature of this duty varies according to the nature of the relationship between an investment advisor or federal covered advisor and his clients and the circumstances of each case, an investment advisor or federal covered advisor who is registered or required to be registered shall not engage in unethical practices, including the following:

1. Recommending to a client to whom investment supervisory, management or consulting services are provided the purchase, sale or exchange of any security without reasonable grounds to believe that the recommendation is suitable for the client on the basis of information furnished by the client after reasonable inquiry concerning the client's investment objectives, financial situation, risk tolerance and needs, and any other information known or acquired by the investment advisor or federal covered advisor after reasonable examination of the client's financial records.

2. Placing an order to purchase or sell a security for the account of a client without written authority to do so.

3. Placing an order to purchase or sell a security for the account of a client upon instruction of a third party without first having obtained a written third-party authorization from the client.

4. Exercising any discretionary power in placing an order for the purchase or sale of securities for a client without obtaining written discretionary authority from the client within 10 business days after the date of the first transaction placed pursuant to oral discretionary authority, unless the discretionary power relates solely to the price at which, or the time when, an order involving a definite amount of a specified security shall be executed, or both.

5. Inducing trading in a client's account that is excessive in size or frequency in view of the financial resources, investment objectives and character of the account.

6. Borrowing money or securities from a client unless the client is a broker-dealer, an affiliate of the investment advisor or federal covered advisor, or a financial institution engaged in the business of loaning funds or securities.

7. Loaning money to a client unless the investment advisor or federal covered advisor is a financial institution engaged in the business of loaning funds or the client is an affiliate of the investment advisor or federal covered advisor.

8. Misrepresenting to any advisory client, or prospective advisory client, the qualifications of the investment advisor or federal covered advisor, or misrepresenting the nature of the advisory services being offered or fees to be charged for the services, or omission to state a material fact necessary to make the statements made regarding qualifications services or fees, in light of the circumstances under which they are made, not misleading.

9. Providing a report or recommendation to any advisory client prepared by someone other than the investment advisor or federal covered advisor without disclosing that fact. This prohibition does not apply to a situation where the advisor uses published research reports or statistical analyses to render advice or where an advisor orders such a report in the normal course of providing service.

10. Charging a client an unreasonable advisory fee in light of the fees charged by other investment advisors or federal covered advisors providing essentially the same services.

11. Failing to disclose to clients in writing before any advice is rendered any material conflict of interest relating to the investment advisor or federal covered advisor or any of his employees which could reasonably be expected to impair the rendering of unbiased and objective advice including:

a. Compensation arrangements connected with advisory services to clients which are in addition to compensation from such clients for such services; or

b. Charging a client an advisory fee for rendering advice when a commission for executing securities transactions pursuant to such advice will be received by the advisor or his employees.

12. Guaranteeing a client that a specific result will be achieved as a result of the advice which will be rendered.

13. Directly or indirectly using any advertisement that does any one of the following:

a. Refers to any testimonial of any kind concerning the investment advisor or investment advisor representative or concerning any advice, analysis, report, or other service rendered by the investment advisor or investment advisor representative;

b. Refers to past specific recommendations of the investment advisor or investment advisor representative that were or would have been profitable to any person; except that an investment advisor or investment advisor representative may furnish or offer to furnish a list of all recommendations made by the investment advisor or investment advisor representative within the immediately preceding period of not less than one year if the advertisement or list also includes both of the following:

(1) The name of each security recommended, the date and nature of each recommendation, the market price at that time, the price at which the recommendation was to be acted upon, and the most recently available market price of each security; and

(2) A legend on the first page in prominent print or type that states that the reader should not assume that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities in the list;

c. Represents that any graph, chart, formula, or other device being offered can be used to determine which securities to buy or sell, or when to buy or sell them; or which represents, directly or indirectly, that any graph, chart, formula, or other device being offered will assist any person in making that person's own decisions as to which securities to buy or sell, or when to buy or sell them, without prominently disclosing in the advertisement the limitations thereof and the risks associated to its use;

d. Represents that any report, analysis, or other service will be furnished for free or without charge, unless the report, analysis, or other service actually is or will be furnished entirely free and without any direct or indirect condition or obligation;

e. Represents that the commission has approved any advertisement; or

f. Contains any untrue statement of a material fact, or that is otherwise false or misleading.

For the purposes of this section, the term "advertisement" includes any notice, circular, letter, or other written communication addressed to more than one person, or any notice or other announcement in any electronic or paper publication, by radio or television, or by any medium, that offers any one of the following:

(i) Any analysis, report, or publication concerning securities;

(ii) Any analysis, report, or publication that is to be used in making any determination as to when to buy or sell any security or which security to buy or sell;

(iii) Any graph, chart, formula, or other device to be used in making any determination as to when to buy or sell any security, or which security to buy or sell; or

(iv) Any other investment advisory service with regard to securities.

14. Disclosing the identity, affairs, or investments of any client to any third party unless required by law or an order of a court or a regulatory agency to do so, or unless consented to by the client, or failing to comply with any applicable privacy provision or standard promulgated by the SEC or by a self-regulatory organization approved by the SEC.

15. Taking any action, directly or indirectly, with respect to those securities or funds in which any client has any beneficial interest, where the investment advisor has custody or possession of such securities or funds, when the investment advisor's action is subject to and does not comply with the safekeeping requirements of 21VAC5-80-146.

16. Entering into, extending or renewing any investment advisory contract unless the contract is in writing and discloses, in substance, the services to be provided, the term of the contract, the advisory fee, the formula for computing the fee, the amount of prepaid fee to be returned in the event of contract termination or nonperformance, whether the contract grants discretionary power to the investment advisor or federal covered advisor and that no assignment of such contract shall be made by the investment advisor or federal covered advisor without the consent of the other party to the contract.

17. Failing to clearly and separately disclose to its customer, prior to any security transaction, providing investment advice for compensation or any materially related transaction that the customer's funds or securities will be in the custody of an investment advisor or contracted custodian in a manner that does not provide Securities Investor Protection Corporation protection, or equivalent third-party coverage over the customer's assets.

18. Using a certification or professional designation in connection with the provision of advice as to the value of or the advisability of investing in, purchasing, or selling securities, either directly or indirectly or through publications or writings, or by issuing or promulgating analyses or reports relating to securities that indicates or implies that the user has special certification or training in advising or servicing senior citizens or retirees in such a way as to mislead any person.

a. The use of such certification or professional designation includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) Use of a certification or designation by a person who has not actually earned or is otherwise ineligible to use such certification or designation;

(2) Use of a nonexistent or self-conferred certification or professional designation;

(3) Use of a certification or professional designation that indicates or implies a level of occupational qualifications obtained through education, training, or experience that the person using the certification or professional designation does not have; or

(4) Use of a certification or professional designation that was obtained from a designating or certifying organization that:

(a) Is primarily engaged in the business of instruction in sales or marketing;

(b) Does not have reasonable standards or procedures for assuring the competency of its designees or certificants;

(c) Does not have reasonable standards or procedures for monitoring and disciplining its designees or certificants for improper or unethical conduct; or

(d) Does not have reasonable continuing education requirements for its designees or certificants in order to maintain the designation or certificate.

b. There is a rebuttable presumption that a designating or certifying organization is not disqualified solely for purposes of subdivision 18 a (4) of this subsection, when the organization has been accredited by:

(1) The American National Standards Institute;

(2) The Institute for Credentialing Excellence (formerly the National Commission for Certifying Agencies); or

(3) An organization that is on the United States Department of Education's list entitled "Accrediting Agencies Recognized for Title IV Purposes" and the designation or credential issued therefrom does not primarily apply to sales or marketing.

c. In determining whether a combination of words (or an acronym standing for a combination of words) constitutes a certification or professional designation indicating or implying that a person has special certification or training in advising or servicing senior citizens or retirees, factors to be considered shall include:

(1) Use of one or more words such as "senior," "retirement," "elder," or like words, combined with one or more words such as "certified," "chartered," "adviser," "specialist," "consultant," "planner," or like words, in the name of the certification or professional designation; and

(2) The manner in which those words are combined.

d. For purposes of this section, a certification or professional designation does not include a job title within an organization that is licensed or registered by a state or federal financial services regulatory agency, when that job title:

(1) Indicates seniority within the organization; or

(2) Specifies an individual's area of specialization within the organization.

For purposes of this subdivision d, "financial services regulatory agency" includes, but is not limited to, an agency that regulates broker-dealers, investment advisers, or investment companies as defined under § 3 (a)(1) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 USC § 80a-3(a)(1)).

e. Nothing in this regulation shall limit the commission's authority to enforce existing provisions of the law.

B. An investment advisor representative is a fiduciary and has a duty to act primarily for the benefit of his clients. While the extent and nature of this duty varies according to the nature of the relationship between an investment advisor representative and his clients and the circumstances of each case, an investment advisor representative who is registered or required to be registered shall not engage in unethical practices, including the following:

1. Recommending to a client to whom investment supervisory, management or consulting services are provided the purchase, sale or exchange of any security without reasonable grounds to believe that the recommendation is suitable for the client on the basis of information furnished by the client after reasonable inquiry concerning the client's investment objectives, financial situation and needs, and any other information known or acquired by the investment advisor representative after reasonable examination of the client's financial records.

2. Placing an order to purchase or sell a security for the account of a client without written authority to do so.

3. Placing an order to purchase or sell a security for the account of a client upon instruction of a third party without first having obtained a written third-party authorization from the client.

4. Exercising any discretionary power in placing an order for the purchase or sale of securities for a client without obtaining written discretionary authority from the client within 10 business days after the date of the first transaction placed pursuant to oral discretionary authority, unless the discretionary power relates solely to the price at which, or the time when, an order involving a definite amount of a specified security shall be executed, or both.

5. Inducing trading in a client's account that is excessive in size or frequency in view of the financial resources, investment objectives and character of the account.

6. Borrowing money or securities from a client unless the client is a broker-dealer, an affiliate of the investment advisor representative, or a financial institution engaged in the business of loaning funds or securities.

7. Loaning money to a client unless the investment advisor representative is engaged in the business of loaning funds or the client is an affiliate of the investment advisor representative.

8. Misrepresenting to any advisory client, or prospective advisory client, the qualifications of the investment advisor representative, or misrepresenting the nature of the advisory services being offered or fees to be charged for the services, or omission to state a material fact necessary to make the statements made regarding qualifications, services or fees, in light of the circumstances under which they are made, not misleading.

9. Providing a report or recommendation to any advisory client prepared by someone other than the investment advisor or federal covered advisor who the investment advisor representative is employed by or associated with without disclosing that fact. This prohibition does not apply to a situation where the investment advisor or federal covered advisor uses published research reports or statistical analyses to render advice or where an investment advisor or federal covered advisor orders such a report in the normal course of providing service.

10. Charging a client an unreasonable advisory fee in light of the fees charged by other investment advisor representatives providing essentially the same services.

11. Failing to disclose to clients in writing before any advice is rendered any material conflict of interest relating to the investment advisor representative which could reasonably be expected to impair the rendering of unbiased and objective advice including:

a. Compensation arrangements connected with advisory services to clients which are in addition to compensation from such clients for such services; or

b. Charging a client an advisory fee for rendering advice when a commission for executing securities transactions pursuant to such advice will be received by the investment advisor representative.

12. Guaranteeing a client that a specific result will be achieved as a result of the advice which will be rendered.

13. Directly or indirectly using any advertisement that does any one of the following:

a. Refers to any testimonial of any kind concerning the investment advisor or investment advisor representative or concerning any advice, analysis, report, or other service rendered by the investment advisor or investment advisor representative;

b. Refers to past specific recommendations of the investment advisor or investment advisor representative that were or would have been profitable to any person; except that an investment advisor or investment advisor representative may furnish or offer to furnish a list of all recommendations made by the investment advisor or investment advisor representative within the immediately preceding period of not less than one year if the advertisement or list also includes both of the following:

(1) The name of each security recommended, the date and nature of each recommendation, the market price at that time, the price at which the recommendation was to be acted upon, and the most recently available market price of each security; and

(2) A legend on the first page in prominent print or type that states that the reader should not assume that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities in the list;

c. Represents that any graph, chart, formula, or other device being offered can be used to determine which securities to buy or sell, or when to buy or sell them; or which represents, directly or indirectly, that any graph, chart, formula, or other device being offered will assist any person in making that person's own decisions as to which securities to buy or sell, or when to buy or sell them, without prominently disclosing in the advertisement the limitations thereof and the risks associated with its use;

d. Represents that any report, analysis, or other service will be furnished for free or without charge, unless the report, analysis, or other service actually is or will be furnished entirely free and without any direct or indirect condition or obligation;

e. Represents that the commission has approved any advertisement; or

f. Contains any untrue statement of a material fact, or that is otherwise false or misleading.

For the purposes of this section, the term "advertisement" includes any notice, circular, letter, or other written communication addressed to more than one person, or any notice or other announcement in any electronic or paper publication, by radio or television, or by any medium, that offers any one of the following:

(i) Any analysis, report, or publication concerning securities;

(ii) Any analysis, report, or publication that is to be used in making any determination as to when to buy or sell any security or which security to buy or sell;

(iii) Any graph, chart, formula, or other device to be used in making any determination as to when to buy or sell any security, or which security to buy or sell; or

(iv) Any other investment advisory service with regard to securities.

14. Disclosing the identity, affairs, or investments of any client to any third party unless required by law or an order of a court or a regulatory agency to do so, or unless consented to by the client.

15. Taking any action, directly or indirectly, with respect to those securities or funds in which any client has any beneficial interest, where the investment advisor representative other than a person associated with a federal covered advisor has custody or possession of such securities or funds, when the investment advisor representative's action is subject to and does not comply with the safekeeping requirements of 21VAC5-80-146.

16. Entering into, extending or renewing any investment advisory or federal covered advisory contract unless such contract is in writing and discloses, in substance, the services to be provided, the term of the contract, the advisory fee, the formula for computing the fee, the amount of prepaid fee to be returned in the event of contract termination or nonperformance, whether the contract grants discretionary power to the investment advisor representative and that no assignment of such contract shall be made by the investment advisor representative without the consent of the other party to the contract.

17. Failing to clearly and separately disclose to its customer, prior to any security transaction, providing investment advice for compensation or any materially related transaction that the customer's funds or securities will be in the custody of an investment advisor or contracted custodian in a manner that does not provide Securities Investor Protection Corporation protection, or equivalent third-party coverage over the customer's assets.

18. Using a certification or professional designation in connection with the provision of advice as to the value of or the advisability of investing in, purchasing, or selling securities, either directly or indirectly or through publications or writings, or by issuing or promulgating analyses or reports relating to securities that indicates or implies that the user has special certification or training in advising or servicing senior citizens or retirees in such a way as to mislead any person.

a. The use of such certification or professional designation includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(1) Use of a certification or designation by a person who has not actually earned or is otherwise ineligible to use such certification or designation;

(2) Use of a nonexistent or self-conferred certification or professional designation;

(3) Use of a certification or professional designation that indicates or implies a level of occupational qualifications obtained through education, training, or experience that the person using the certification or professional designation does not have; or

(4) Use of a certification or professional designation that was obtained from a designating or certifying organization that:

(a) Is primarily engaged in the business of instruction in sales or marketing;

(b) Does not have reasonable standards or procedures for assuring the competency of its designees or certificants;

(c) Does not have reasonable standards or procedures for monitoring and disciplining its designees or certificants for improper or unethical conduct; or

(d) Does not have reasonable continuing education requirements for its designees or certificants in order to maintain the designation or certificate.

b. There is a rebuttable presumption that a designating or certifying organization is not disqualified solely for purposes of subdivision 18 a (4) of this subsection, when the organization has been accredited by:

(1) The American National Standards Institute;

(2) The Institute for Credentialing Excellence (formerly the National Commission for Certifying Agencies); or

(3) An organization that is on the United States Department of Education's list entitled "Accrediting Agencies Recognized for Title IV Purposes" and the designation or credential issued therefrom does not primarily apply to sales or marketing.

c. In determining whether a combination of words (or an acronym standing for a combination of words) constitutes a certification or professional designation indicating or implying that a person has special certification or training in advising or servicing senior citizens or retirees, factors to be considered shall include:

(1) Use of one or more words such as "senior," "retirement," "elder," or like words, combined with one or more words such as "certified," "chartered," "adviser," "specialist," "consultant," "planner," or like words, in the name of the certification or professional designation; and

(2) The manner in which those words are combined.

d. For purposes of this section, a certification or professional designation does not include a job title within an organization that is licensed or registered by a state or federal financial services regulatory agency, when that job title:

(1) Indicates seniority within the organization; or

(2) Specifies an individual's area of specialization within the organization.

For purposes of this subdivision d, "financial services regulatory agency" includes, but is not limited to, an agency that regulates broker-dealers, investment advisers, or investment companies as defined under § 3(a)(1) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 USC § 80a-3(a)(1).

e. Nothing in this regulation shall limit the commission's authority to enforce existing provisions of law.

C. The conduct set forth in subsections A and B of this section is not all inclusive. Engaging in other conduct such as nondisclosure, incomplete disclosure, or deceptive practices may be deemed an unethical business practice except to the extent permitted by the National Securities Markets Improvement Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-290 (96)).

D. The provisions of this section shall apply to federal covered advisors to the extent that fraud or deceit is involved, or as otherwise permitted by the National Securities Markets Improvement Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-290 (96)).

Statutory Authority

§§ 12.1-13 and 13.1-523 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Rule 1206, Case No. SEC890040, eff. July 1, 1989; amended, Volume 13, Issue 25, eff. September 1, 1997; Volume 15, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 1999; Volume 17, Issue 20, eff. July 1, 2001; Volume 19, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2003; Volume 23, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2007; Volume 24, Issue 21, eff. July 1, 2008; Volume 26, Issue 06, eff. November 15, 2009; Volume 26, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 2010; Volume 29, Issue 20, eff. June 3, 2013; Volume 31, Issue 25, eff. July 31, 2015.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.