As anyone who has prepared or reviewed variable insurance product sales material knows, FINRA Advertising Regulation’s content standards and interpretive positions are not always clearly articulated. One common problem, for example, is that broker-dealers distributing and selling variable products may receive comments on sales material based on unwritten FINRA staff positions.
FINRA’s written Variable Contract Communication Guidelines were created in 1993. Since that time, FINRA also has issued guidance in the form of Notices to Members, Regulatory Alerts, Ask the Analyst responses, and other interpretive commentary. These sources can be difficult locate and use. Among other things, they were published at different times and for different purposes, are not comprehensive, and contain inconsistencies.
At a recent industry-wide conference, a FINRA Advertising Regulation staff member announced from the podium that FINRA is currently in the process of updating the in order to consolidate written and unwritten guidance and make other updating changes. This is welcome news for the industry. Among other things, revised Guidelines are expected to address various forms of variable product illustrations. FINRA has solicited suggestions from the industry. Once the revised Guidelines are drafted, FINRA intends to submit them for review and comment to various FINRA committees and eventually to the public. FINRA hopes this will take place in 2008.