When must FINRA vet my firm’s revised ad?

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Q: My CCO and I are having a discussion about what we need to submit to FINRA’s advertising review department. My CCO believes we need to submit every advertisement no matter how small the change and I think we only need to submit filings that have material changes. What are your thoughts?

A: There are several answers I would offer here. First, you are correct that after FINRA has approved an advertisement you only need to resubmit it when there are material changes. But what does and does not constitute a material change, however, can sometimes be difficult to figure out. Some examples can be found on FINRA’s FAQ page.

Of course, the list is not all-inclusive, so I’d recommend that if a change falls into a gray area where it may or may not be considered to be material, that you err on the side of caution and submit the ad.

Before doing so, however, make sure you’re on the same page as your CCO, who might only be asking to review an ad to determine whether or not the change is material before submitting everything to FINRA.

Finally, I typically advise reps that if your CCO is telling you to do something, it’s probably a good idea to comply, even if you disagree — unless, of course, you believe the directive may harm the firm or clients.

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