Just in time for March Madness, SEC to launch ads promoting adviser background checks

The multimedia campaign will include 30-second television and radio spots as well as online and print ads encouraging use of the agency's database

Feb 26, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Financial regulation is set to become part of March Madness this year, in the form of television commercials during college basketball broadcasts touting the Securities and Exchange Commission's adviser database.

Slated to start Monday, the multimedia campaign will include 30-second television and radio spots as well as online and print advertising encouraging use of the agency's website to delve into the background of people purporting to be investment advisers.

In addition to appearing during sporting events, the TV ads will run on business channels. The total ad buy is approximately $900,000 and will last until August.

One television ad features a glib young professional giving a tour of his luxurious home and attributing the financing of different amenities to individuals he ripped off in investment schemes.

“Their life savings is now my lifestyle,” the actor says.

The ads are meant to drive traffic to the newly redesigned and mobile-friendly Investor.gov website, which includes a link to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure database.

“The first thing investors need to do before making an investment decision is to make sure they are dealing with a licensed investment professional,” Lori Schock, director of the SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, said in a statement. “This campaign is a pilot project to get that message out in a broad yet cost-effective way, and to show investors they can go to Investor.gov to do a search that's quick, easy and free.”

The SEC database includes the latest Form ADV for registered advisers. If investors search for a broker on the SEC site, they will be automatically transferred to BrokerCheck, a similar site maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.

Last summer, Finra launched an ad campaign for BrokerCheck, which contains employment and disciplinary history for registered brokers. In October, the SEC approved a rule requiring brokerages to include a link to BrokerCheck on their home pages and broker profiles.

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