Maintaining Compliance: The Ultimate RIA Checklist

As a registered investment advisor (RIA) or RIA firm, it is crucial to prioritize compliance regulations to maintain your license and protect your clients. Staying up to date with the latest requirements can help your business avoid any legal issues and operate smoothly.

Through years of experience assisting dually-registered advisors, RIAs, and firms with maintaining compliance with SEC and FINRA regulations, AdvisorLaw has found that RIAs do best by following a compliance checklist. Our comprehensive list is broken down into three areas of focus: administrative, operational, and regulatory procedures.

Administrative Items

These items are critical to making sure that your RIA firm operates effectively and in compliance with all applicable regulations. This may include conducting regular reviews of firm policies and procedures, such as your code of ethics and advertising and marketing materials, to ensure that they are up to date and that they reflect any changes. Additionally, by conducting employee background checks, RIAs can verify that they are hiring individuals with a history of compliance and ethics. 

Registration And Licensing

Is your RIA properly registered with the SEC or applicable state securities agency? This is important for maintaining compliance with regulatory agencies and avoiding legal issues. Make sure that all associated individuals are properly licensed and registered and that everything is well-documented.

Code Of Ethics

Having a written code of ethics that is distributed to all employees and updated as needed is also essential for RIAs. You should conduct annual training for employees on your code of ethics and maintain documentation of the training. This will make sure that all employees are aware of compliance regulations and that they are committed to ethical business practices.

Compliance Policies And Procedures

Written policies and procedures for all compliance-related functions, including trading, advertising, and communication with clients, are also critical for maintaining compliance. It is important to conduct annual reviews of policies and procedures and update them as needed. This will keep your business up to date while keeping your employees on the same page.

Operational Items

These items are also necessary for maintaining compliance and guaranteeing the smooth operation of your business. This may include reviewing your cybersecurity policies to ensure that client data is properly protected. Disaster recovery plans and business continuity plans also help your business by making sure it continues to operate in the event of an unforeseen disruption or disaster.


RIAs must protect client data by having a written cybersecurity policy that includes procedures for protecting client data. Regular training for employees on cybersecurity best practices is also necessary. This can help prevent cybersecurity breaches that could lead to legal issues or harm your clients. The SEC is planning to update its outdated cybersecurity rule this fall — so it’s in an RIA’s best interest to be proactive and make changes to get ahead of the game now.

Business Continuity And Disaster Recovery

Having a written business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan that includes procedures for assuring business continuity in the event of disruption is important for RIAs. It is essential to conduct regular testing of the plans and update them as needed so that in the event of an unforeseen disruption or disaster, your business will continue to operate without issue.

Regulatory Items

Finally, regulatory items should be a key focus for any RIA business. All client disclosures must be up-to-date and accurate to maintain transparency and meet regulatory requirements. As always, these items must be regularly reviewed so that, when any state or federal regulations are changed or updated, your RIA can quickly adapt to maintain compliance.

Client Disclosures And Communication

RIAs must have procedures in place for communicating with clients, including providing regular account statements and responding to client inquiries. This will strengthen the trust between your clients and your business.

Record Keeping

Maintaining accurate and organized records of all compliance-related activities, including annual reviews, employee training, and any other compliance-related tasks, is crucial for RIAs. These records are required and should always be cataloged. This will help you quickly and easily provide documentation to regulators in case of an audit or inquiry.

Fees And Compensation

Disclosing all fees and compensation to clients in a clear and transparent manner is necessary for maintaining compliance with regulations. All fee arrangements must be in compliance with applicable regulations to avoid any legal issues.

Advertising And Marketing

All advertising and marketing materials must be accurate and compliant with any relevant regulations. You should have procedures in place for reviewing and approving all advertising and marketing materials. This can help prevent any misleading or false information that could harm your clients or your business.

Outsourcing Compliance Functions

Outsourcing compliance functions to a third-party provider or working with a compliance consultant can make it easier for RIAs to meet all their compliance requirements. This can be particularly helpful for smaller RIA firms with limited resources to devote to compliance regulations.

RIA Compliance Checklist

Staying up to date with compliance regulations is essential for any RIA business. By prioritizing compliance and staying current with the latest regulations, RIAs can operate their businesses smoothly and protect their clients from any potential issues. Regularly reviewing and updating compliance procedures and having a comprehensive guide to compliance can help your business thrive. 

To help you with your compliance and legal requirements, download AdvisorLaw’s comprehensive RIA compliance checklist today. 

How AdvisorLaw Can Help You Maintain Compliance

AdvisorLaw is a leading provider of RIA compliance services, with a focus on enhancing the compliance programs of registered investment advisers. Our flagship offering is our RIA Nexus Enterprise platform, which is designed to provide comprehensive support for all aspects of RIA compliance.

One of the key features of the Nexus is its enhanced services. AdvisorLaw’s team of experienced compliance professionals works closely with RIA firms to tailor their compliance programs to their specific needs. This includes conducting a thorough review of existing policies and procedures, identifying potential areas of risk, and implementing custom solutions to address those risks. The goal is to help RIA firms stay compliant with all applicable regulations while minimizing the impact on their day-to-day operations.

Another important aspect of the RIA Nexus enterprise platform is its focus on cybersecurity through our CyberProtection service. With data breaches becoming increasingly common, cybersecurity is a critical concern for all RIA firms. AdvisorLaw’s team works closely with RIA firms to develop and implement robust cybersecurity policies and procedures that help protect sensitive client data. This includes conducting regular risk assessments, implementing multi-factor authentication, and providing training to employees on best practices for data security.

In addition to its enhanced services and focus on cybersecurity, AdvisorLaw also offers outsourced CCO (chief compliance officer) services. This is particularly valuable for smaller RIA firms that may not have the resources to hire a full-time CCO. By outsourcing this critical function to AdvisorLaw, RIA firms can obtain the expertise they need to stay compliant with all regulations without having to bear the cost of a full-time employee.

AdvisorLaw’s RIA compliance services are designed to help RIA firms of all sizes stay compliant with all applicable regulations while minimizing the impact on their day-to-day operations. Whether through its enhanced services, cybersecurity focus, or outsourced CCO services, AdvisorLaw is committed to providing the support that RIA firms need to succeed.

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation. 

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