The SEC proposed amendments to Part 2 of Form ADV under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and related rules. The proposed amendments, if adopted, would require investment advisers to provide clients with narrative brochures containing plain English descriptions of the advisers' businesses, services, and conflicts of interest. The proposal also would require advisers to electronically file their brochures with the SEC, and the brochures would be available to the public through the SEC's Web site.

Most advisers currently use a check-the-box, fill-in-the-blank form for their brochures. The plain English narrative brochure being proposed by the SEC would provide investors with more detailed information about an adviser's business practices, including the types of advisory services they provide, fees they charge, and the risks that clients can anticipate. The narrative also would disclose the disciplinary history of an investment adviser including any violation of the securities laws, as well as conflicts of interest such as the use of affiliates to execute transactions, the use of client brokerage to obtain "soft dollars benefits," and the adviser's interests in certain transactions.

The SEC proposal further addresses developing areas of concern, including conflicts of interest arising from the side-by-side management of clients who pay performance fees (such as hedge funds) and those who do not; conflicts of interest arising from an adviser's receipt of compensation from issuers of financial products the adviser recommends to clients; and qualifications of a firm's employees who give advice to clients.

Please click for a copy of the proposing release.