What is a Form ADV? Your ADV Questions Answered

Your ADV is the foundation document of your RIA. Let's dig in to understand why it matters and more.
February 20, 2024
Thomas Stewart, Founder & CEO
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In the world of registered investment advisers (RIAs), balancing client relationships, portfolio management, and staying up-to-date with regulatory requirements is a daily tightrope walk. At the heart of this regulatory landscape stands Form ADV, a document that holds the key to transparency and compliance. Whether you're a seasoned RIA or just starting your journey, understanding and mastering Form ADV is essential. In this FAQ, we'll unravel the Form ADV.

1. What's the Meaning Behind Form ADV?

Form ADV, known formally as the "Uniform Application for Investment Advisor Registration and Report by Exempt Reporting Advisor," plays a pivotal role in the world of registered investment advisers (RIAs). It serves as your passport to regulatory compliance, allowing you to disclose crucial details about your firm's fee structures, disclosures, assets under management (AUM), and more to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Form ADV has stood as a foundational element of RIA regulation for decades, championing transparency between clients and advisers, a core tenet of the financial industry.

2. When Does Form ADV Come Into Play?

The journey into the world of Form ADV begins as you set out to become an RIA. During the initial registration process, this document becomes a central requirement. Beyond this, it transforms into an annual ritual. This annual update ensures that your firm's information remains accurate and up-to-date, a crucial aspect of maintaining compliance and fostering trust with clients and regulators.

3. Can I Simplify Form ADV with Online Filing?

Absolutely, the digital age has brought forth a streamlined process for Form ADV filing through the Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD) system. Creating an account on this platform grants you access to a simplified filing experience. You can submit your Form ADV, make updates as needed, and efficiently track the status of your filing. Within approximately 45 days, the SEC will provide feedback on the status of your application, typically via postal mail. It's worth noting that while the SEC is a key player, state-specific regulations may also apply.

4. What's the Deadline for Form ADV Updates?

Maintaining compliance means adhering to deadlines, and when it comes to Form ADV, there's a crucial one to remember. The annual update for Form ADV should be completed within 90 days following your firm's fiscal year-end. This deadline ensures that your clients and regulators have access to the most current information about your firm.

5. Who has to file Form ADV?

Form ADV is not exclusive to a specific group within the financial industry. RIAs, and even Exempt Reporting Advisors (ERAs), while having their version of Form ADV, are not exempt from regulatory requirements. These specialized forms are tailored to meet the unique needs of different financial entities.

6. When Should I Revise Form ADV?

Beyond the annual update, there are instances where revisions to Form ADV are necessary. This might include scenarios where you are adding or removing a relying adviser or if any information you provided in response to specific sections of the form becomes inaccurate in any way. Precision and accuracy in these revisions are paramount to maintaining compliance.

7. How Can I Easily Update Form ADV?

Updating Form ADV is a streamlined process, thanks to the user-friendly IARD online system. When you need to make amendments outside of the annual update, simply log in to your account. Select "ADV New Filing" and, if applicable, choose "Submit an Other-than-Annual Amendment" from the filing types. Follow the prompts to enter the necessary information, making the revision process straightforward and efficient.

8. What Are the Different Parts of Form ADV?

Form ADV is a comprehensive document, structured into five major parts, each serving a unique purpose. Part 1A focuses on the legal identity of your investment advisory firm. Part 1B is specific to state-registered firms, offering tailored information. Part 2A requires the creation of narrative brochures, providing in-depth insights into your advisory firm. Part 2B involves crafting brochure supplements that contain valuable information about specific supervised individuals, typically your Investment Adviser Representatives (IARs). Part 3 introduces the relationship summary, known as Form CRS, which is particularly relevant to SEC-registered firms. It's important to note that exempt advisors may find relief from completing certain sections based on their specific circumstances.

9. Is Form ADV Public Information?

Transparency is a cornerstone of regulatory compliance. Your Form ADV is publicly accessible through the SEC's Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website. This accessibility ensures that clients, prospects, and regulators can gain valuable insights into your firm's operations, compliance status, and overall trustworthiness.

10. How Can Technology Aid in Form ADV Compliance?

In the digital age, technology plays a crucial role in simplifying compliance tasks. Leveraging compliance software, such as Hadrius, can streamline the Form ADV filing process, reduce errors, and enhance efficiency. Automation features can help ensure that your filings are always up-to-date and in line with regulatory requirements.

11. What's the Future of Form ADV Compliance?

As regulatory requirements evolve and financial industry landscapes shift, it's essential to stay informed about the future of Form ADV compliance. Keeping a keen eye on industry trends and staying up-to-date with regulatory changes will enable you to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing compliance landscape.

12. How does Hadrius help with your ADV?

Planning to get registered as an RIA or already registered? You'll need to file an ADV - let us handle it while you focus on growing your firm. Hadrius is the most modern and efficient compliance program around, automating 80%+ of your compliance program and covering the rest with dedicated 24/7 access to our compliance and engineer team. Reach out today to get started!

Thomas Stewart

Founder & CEO, Hadrius

Thomas Stewart is the founder and CEO of Hadrius, the most modern SEC and FINRA compliance software around. Thomas previously founded the SEC-registered RIA Quantbase where he learned first hand how to build an efficient compliance program that scales with high-growth firms.

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