What is an 'ADV Form'

Form ADV is a required submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by a professional investment advisor that specifies the investment style, assets under management (AUM) and key officers of the firm. A company managing over $25 million must update the form annually, and the form must be made available as public record.

BREAKING DOWN 'ADV Form'

Officially called the Uniform Application for Investment Adviser Registration and Report by Exempt Reporting Adviser, Form ADV serves as a registration document that must be submitted to the SEC and to state securities authorities. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) reviews and approves changes made to the document, and it is supported by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Contents of a Form ADV

Form ADV is divided into two parts. The first part discloses specific information about a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) that is important to regulators, such as its name, the number of employees, the form of the organization and the nature of the business.

The second part acts as a disclosure document for clients of the business and includes information, such as services provided, fees levied, and whether the investment advisor acts as a broker-dealer and transacts securities. Part 2 also requires the creation of a narrative brochure, which provides information to interested parties in plain English. These brochures are made available to the public and contain details regarding any conflicts of interest that are present, any disciplinary actions that have been taken, current educational and business background information, and other items deemed critical to clients of the RIA.

Required Filings

Form ADV filings are required on an annual basis for the firm to be considered to be in compliance. This ensures that all pertinent information is recorded properly. Annual filing is required even if the firm made no changes during the previous year. If no changes are required, filers must attest to the accuracy of the information currently on file.

If an advisor fails to file as required per state and federal regulations, it is subject to administrative action. This can include the suspension or revocation of the advisor's professional license as well as fines for noncompliance.

Accessing a Form ADV

To request a copy of Form ADV, contact the SEC branch closest to you. Potential and current clients of an investment advisor should always review the Form ADV on file, as it provides transparent evidence of the asset mix within the firm and the professional backgrounds of key personnel.

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