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How An Attorney Can Help With RIA Registration

An attorney helping with RIA registration

Registered Investment Advisers, or (RIAs), are financial professionals or companies who guide clients on investments and manage their portfolios. An individual cannot simply become an RIA, but is subject to registration and regulation. If you are in the process of becoming an RIA, retaining experienced legal counsel is imperative. My RIA Lawyer is here to walk you through each step and assist with helping you meet the requirements to become an RIA. Here we explain how we can serve you and your organization.

Becoming an RIA

To become an RIA, an individual must pass the Series 65 (Uniform Investment Advisor Law) exam. Administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), this test is an essential first step. An RIA test-taker need not be sponsored by a broker-dealer.

The test asks questions about federal securities laws and related investment advice topics. Most advisors will find that additional qualifications are beneficial to their business. Those may include the CFP® or CFA designation. Some states allow advisors with the following designations to waive the Series 65 test:

  • Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)

Requirements for Dispensing Investment Advice and Asset Management

If you are giving investment advice as an RIA, or providing asset management services, more steps are required. You need to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission or with the state in which you do business. SEC registration is complex and it is strongly recommended that you speak with an attorney about doing it properly.

Help for Your RIA Firm

To establish an RIA firm, you will want to take the following steps (among others):

  • Execute articles of incorporation
  • Complete all necessary legal entity filings
  • Complete the required draftings and filings (e.g. ADV 1A/B D, ADV 2, ADV 3/CRS, etc.)
  • Draft policies and procedures manuals for your firm
  • Adopt anti-money laundering (AML) policies and procedures
  • Adopt a cybersecurity policy
  • Create and enforce privacy policies
  • Create a code of ethics for your firm
  • Write client advisory and investment advisory agreements
  • Review all marketing materials including websites and business cards for legal compliance
  • As necessary, write conflict of interest and other disclosures
  • Create a business continuity plan

Understand Your Obligations as an RIA

It’s not enough to complete the necessary registration and filing requirements to become an RIA. Serving as an RIA is an ongoing commitment to legal and ethical excellence. These are just some of the duties you need to be aware of:

  • Understand the responsibilities you undertake when dispensing investment management and related advice.
  • Know your role as a fiduciary, meaning you act in the best interests of clients and avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Be aware of what FINRA compliance and SEC registration mean for you and your firm.
  • Properly disclose investment and other risks so clients can make informed decisions.

We’re Ready to Serve Your RIA Legal Needs

My RIA Lawyer is prepared to help you register yourself or your firm as an RIA. We can walk you through all legal and regulatory requirements and explain the duties you are assuming. Finally, we can answer questions about your ongoing fiduciary and other obligations and assist with any compliance issues. To learn more about our legal services, connect with My RIA Lawyer today.

Author Bio

Leila Shaver is the Founder of My RIA Lawyer, a law firm that provides compliance and legal consulting for financial institutions. With extensive experience as a securities attorney and compliance expert, she has served as Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel to RIAs, BDs, and TAMPs with billions in assets under management.

Leila understands the challenges RIAs face and is committed to helping RIAs streamline their processes, mitigate risks, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. She received her Juris Doctor from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and is a West Georgia Young Lawyers’ Association member. Leila has received numerous accolades for her work, including the Carroll County Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award in 2017.

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