Many market participants were left in a quandary following FINRA enforcement actions in connection with member firm research analyst “participation” in meetings with prospective issuers. Recently, FINRA published a handful of Frequently Asked Questions relating to its research rules (see: http://www.finra.org/industry/faq-research-rules-frequently-asked-questions-faq). The FAQs outline three stages of an IPO a pre-IPO period, a solicitation period, and a post-mandate period. Each such stage is described in the FAQs and FINRA also describes the attendant risks associated with a research analyst’s activities during these various stages. Of course, during the pre-IPO stage, the attendant risks are attenuated and FINRA believe that these attenuated risks can be addressed adequately through properly designed policies and procedures. However, FINRA cautions that member firms ought to be sensitive to any communications that would suggest the issuer already had determined to proceed with an IPO. The guidance also provides FINRA’s view regarding when the “solicitation period” would be deemed to begin, although this would seem, in real life, to be a highly fact-specific matter. In the post-mandate period, again, the risks are attenuated, in FINRA’s view, and may be effectively addressed by member firms through their policies and procedures. The guidance is particularly strident with respect to valuation analyses. For example, the FAQs note that a member firm that is competing for an IPO role must repudiate any communication that would seemingly indicate that a valuation reflects the analyst’s views and expressly note that the firm cannot make any representations about the analyst’s views on valuation.