Section 206 of the Act prohibits certain transactions by any investment adviser, whether registered or exempt from registration pursuant to Section 203(b) of the Act. Under paragraph (4) of Section 206, the Commission has authority to adopt rules defining acts, practices, and courses of business that are fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative. Pursuant to this authority, the Commission adopted Rule 206(4)-1, which defines the use of certain specific types of advertisements by advisers as fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative. Although the rule does not specifically prohibit an adviser from using model or actual results, or prescribe the manner of advertising these results, paragraph (5) of the rule makes it a fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative act for any investment adviser to distribute, directly or indirectly, any advertisement that contains any untrue statement of a material fact or that is otherwise false or misleading.3 Accordingly, the applicable legal standard governing the advertising of model or actual results is that contained in paragraph (5) of the rule, i.e., whether the particular advertisement is false or misleading.
Model and Actual Results
(1) Fails to disclose the effect of material market or economic conditions on the results portrayed (e.g., an advertisement stating that the accounts of the adviser’s clients appreciated in the value 25% without disclosing that the market generally appreciated 40% during the same period).
(2) Includes model or actual results that do not reflect the deduction of advisory fees, brokerage or other commissions, and any other expenses that a client would have paid or actually paid.
(3) Fails to disclose whether and to what extent the results portrayed reflect the reinvestment of dividends and other earnings.
(4) Suggests or makes claims about the potential for profit without also disclosing the possibility of loss.
(5) Compares model or actual results to an index without disclosing all material facts relevant to the comparison (e.g. an advertisement that compares model results to an index without disclosing that the volatility of the index is materially different from that of the model portfolio).
(6) Fails to disclose any material conditions, objectives, or investment strategies used to obtain the results portrayed (e.g., the model portfolio contains equity stocks that are managed with a view towards capital appreciation).
(7) Fails to disclose prominently the limitations inherent in model results, particularly the fact that such results do not represent actual trading and that they may not reflect the impact that material economic and market factors might have had on the adviser’s decision-making if the adviser were actually managing clients’ money;
(8) Fails to disclose, if applicable, that the conditions, objectives, or investment strategies of the model portfolio changed materially during the time period portrayed in the advertisement and, if so, the effect of any such change on the results portrayed.
(9) Fails to disclose, if applicable, that any of the securities contained in, or the investment strategies followed with respect to, the model portfolio do not relate, or only partially relate, to the type of advisory services currently offered by the adviser (e.g., the model includes some types of securities that the adviser no longer recommends for its clients).
(10) Fails to disclose, if applicable, that the adviser’s clients had investment results materially different from the results portrayed in the model.
(11) Fails to disclose prominently, if applicable, that the results portrayed relate only to a select group of the adviser’s clients, the basis on which the selection was made, and the effect of this practice on the results portrayed, if material.