FINRA’s limits on registered rep use of ghostwriters

Registered representatives, if you distribute an article with your name, FINRA wants you to contribute most of the content.

That seems to be the minimum requirement, according to comments I’ve received from other financial marketing writers in LinkedIn’s Financial Writing/Marketing Communications Group. Your compliance department may have stricter requirements, so check before you publish.

Misleading Communications About Expertise,” a FINRA regulatory noticed dated May 2008, appears to lay out the rules. It says, “Registered representatives may not suggest (or encourage others to suggest) that they authored investment-related books, articles or similar publications if they did not write them. Such a publication created by a third-party vendor must disclose that it was prepared either by the third party or for the representative’s use.”

However, what does it mean to write an article?

It appears that ghostwriters can be involved if they aren’t providing the information for the article. In other words, if the rep provides the article’s substance–either through an outline or an interview conducted by the ghostwriter–and if the rep oversees revisions to the article, then it’s okay. At least that’s what I took away from the comments of writers who interact more closely than me with compliance experts.

Again, be sure to check with your firm’s compliance department before you publish.

If you’ve had experience with this topic, I welcome your comments.