FINRA and Compliance In The Era of Fake News

By Tyson Kingsbury via

There’s an old saying, ‘may you live in interesting times’.

We have been living now in an era of what many term ‘fake news’. Rumor, innuendo, exaggerations and misdirection are the chaff we regularly navigate, to find trusted information. With that in mind, it may be time for a reminder on living within the FINRA framework in an era where many are questioning how trustworthy their sources of financial information have become. Here are a few key guidelines regarding promotion and communication from the FINRA rules book that you may want to reacquaint yourselves with.

Fair and Balanced:

While everyone has opinions, we’re reminded that when it comes to conveying info within the confines of a Financial Advisor blog post or web page, we must deliver the facts as clearly as possible, and not have them coloured by our personal biases.

All communications must be fair, balanced and complete and not omit material information. Seems reasonable, of course. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the fact that omitting key information is as harmful as an outright lie. Make sure that you air the appropriate amount of information on both sides of an issue.

False, misleading, promissory, exaggerated or unwarranted statements or claims are prohibited.

What your parents taught you still holds true. But in this case, fibbing has much bigger consequences than being sent to your room. You absolutely cannot mislead your audience with false claims and exaggerations. To do so would be to risk a disciplinary action from Finra, and could result in a formal complaint, fines or even suspensions.

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