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Sep 25 2015 - Dec 23 2015Dec 24 2015 onwards

2241. Research Analysts and Research Reports

(a) Definitions
For purposes of this Rule, the following terms shall be defined as provided.
(1) "Emerging Growth Company" has the same meaning as in Section 3(a)(80) of the Exchange Act.
(2) "Equity security" has the same meaning as defined in Section 3(a)(11) of the Exchange Act.
(3) "Independent third-party research report" means a third-party research report, in respect of which the person producing the report:
(A) has no affiliation or business or contractual relationship with the distributing member or that member's affiliates that is reasonably likely to inform the content of its research reports; and
(B) makes content determinations without any input from the distributing member or that member's affiliates.
(4) "Investment banking department" means any department or division, whether or not identified as such, that performs any investment banking service on behalf of a member.
(5) "Investment banking services" include, without limitation, acting as an underwriter, participating in a selling group in an offering for the issuer or otherwise acting in furtherance of a public offering of the issuer; acting as a financial adviser in a merger or acquisition; providing venture capital or equity lines of credit or serving as placement agent for the issuer or otherwise acting in furtherance of a private offering of the issuer.
(6) "Member of a research analyst's household" means any individual whose principal residence is the same as the research analyst's principal residence. This term does not include an unrelated person who shares the same residence as a research analyst, provided that the research analyst and unrelated person are financially independent of one another.
(7) "Public appearance" means any participation in a conference call, seminar, forum (including an interactive electronic forum) or other public speaking activity before 15 or more persons or before one or more representatives of the media, a radio, television or print media interview, or the writing of a print media article, in which a research analyst makes a recommendation or offers an opinion concerning an equity security. This term does not include a password protected Webcast, conference call or similar event with 15 or more existing customers, provided that all of the event participants previously received the most current research report or other documentation that contains the required applicable disclosures, and that the research analyst appearing at the event corrects and updates during the event any disclosures in the research report that are inaccurate, misleading or no longer applicable.
(8) "Research analyst" means an associated person who is primarily responsible for, and any associated person who reports directly or indirectly to a research analyst in connection with, the preparation of the substance of a research report, whether or not any such person has the job title of "research analyst."
(9) "Research analyst account" means any account in which a research analyst or member of the research analyst's household has a financial interest, or over which such analyst has discretion or control. This term shall not include an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act over which the research analyst or a member of the research analyst's household has discretion or control, provided that the research analyst or member of the research analyst's household has no financial interest in such investment company, other than a performance or management fee. The term also shall not include a "blind trust" account that is controlled by a person other than the research analyst or member of the research analyst's household where neither the research analyst nor a member of the research analyst's household knows of the account's investments or investment transactions.
(10) "Research department" means any department or division, whether or not identified as such, that is principally responsible for preparing the substance of a research report on behalf of a member.
(11) "Research report" means any written (including electronic) communication that includes an analysis of equity securities of individual companies or industries (other than an open-end registered investment company that is not listed or traded on an exchange) and that provides information reasonably sufficient upon which to base an investment decision. This term does not include:
(A) communications that are limited to the following:
(i) discussions of broad-based indices;
(ii) commentaries on economic, political or market conditions;
(iii) technical analyses concerning the demand and supply for a sector, index or industry based on trading volume and price;
(iv) statistical summaries of multiple companies' financial data, including listings of current ratings;
(v) recommendations regarding increasing or decreasing holdings in particular industries or sectors;
(vi) notices of ratings or price target changes, provided that the member simultaneously directs the readers of the notice to the most recent research report on the subject company that includes all current applicable disclosures required by this Rule and that such research report does not contain materially misleading disclosures, including disclosures that are outdated or no longer applicable; or
(B) the following communications, even if they include an analysis of an individual equity security and information reasonably sufficient upon which to base an investment decision:
(i) any communication distributed to fewer than 15 persons;
(ii) periodic reports or other communications prepared for investment company shareholders or discretionary investment account clients that discuss individual securities in the context of a fund's or account's past performance or the basis for previously made discretionary investment decisions; or
(iii) internal communications that are not given to current or prospective customers;
(C) communications that constitute statutory prospectuses that are filed as part of a registration statement; and
(D) communications that constitute private placement memoranda and comparable offering-related documents prepared in connection with investment banking services transactions, other than those that purport to be research.
(12) "Sales and trading personnel" includes persons in any department or division, whether or not identified as such, who perform any sales or trading service on behalf of a member.
(13) "Subject company" means the company whose equity securities are the subject of a research report or public appearance.
(14) "Third-party research report" means a research report that is produced by a person other than the member.
(b) Identifying and Managing Conflicts of Interest
(1) A member must establish, maintain and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to identify and effectively manage conflicts of interest related to:
(A) the preparation, content and distribution of research reports;
(B) public appearances by research analysts; and
(C) the interaction between research analysts and those outside of the research department, including investment banking and sales and trading personnel, subject companies and customers.
(2) A member's written policies and procedures must be reasonably designed to promote objective and reliable research that reflects the truly held opinions of research analysts and to prevent the use of research reports or research analysts to manipulate or condition the market or favor the interests of the member or a current or prospective customer or class of customers. Such policies and procedures must:
(A) prohibit prepublication review, clearance or approval of research reports by persons engaged in investment banking services activities and restrict or prohibit such review, clearance or approval by other persons not directly responsible for the preparation, content and distribution of research reports, other than legal and compliance personnel;
(B) restrict or limit input by the investment banking department into research coverage decisions to ensure that research management independently makes all final decisions regarding the research coverage plan;
(C) prohibit persons engaged in investment banking activities from supervision or control of research analysts, including influence or control over research analyst compensation evaluation and determination;
(D) limit determination of the research department budget to senior management, excluding senior management engaged in investment banking services activities;
(E) prohibit compensation based upon specific investment banking services transactions or contributions to a member's investment banking services activities;
(F) require that the compensation of a research analyst who is primarily responsible for preparation of the substance of a research report be reviewed and approved at least annually by a committee that reports to a member's board of directors, or if the member has no board of directors, a senior executive officer of the member. This committee may not have representation from the member's investment banking department and must consider the following factors when reviewing a research analyst's compensation, if applicable:
(i) the research analyst's individual performance, including the analyst's productivity and the quality of the analyst's research;
(ii) the correlation between the research analyst's recommendations and the performance of the recommended securities; and
(iii) the overall ratings received from clients, sales force and peers independent of the member's investment banking department, and other independent ratings services.
The committee must document the basis upon which each such research analyst's compensation was established;
(G) establish information barriers or other institutional safeguards reasonably designed to ensure that research analysts are insulated from the review, pressure or oversight by persons engaged in investment banking services activities or other persons, including sales and trading personnel, who might be biased in their judgment or supervision;
(H) prohibit direct or indirect retaliation or threat of retaliation against research analysts employed by the member or its affiliates by persons engaged in investment banking services activities or other employees as the result of an adverse, negative, or otherwise unfavorable research report or public appearance written or made by the research analyst that may adversely affect the member's present or prospective business interests;
(I) define periods during which the member must not publish or otherwise distribute research reports, and research analysts must not make public appearances, relating to the issuer:
(i) of a minimum of 10 days following the date of an initial public offering if the member has participated as an underwriter or dealer in the initial public offering; or
(ii) of a minimum of three days following the date of a secondary offering if the member has acted as a manager or co-manager of that offering.
This subparagraph (I) shall not apply to the publication or distribution of a research report or a public appearance following an initial public offering or secondary offering of the securities of an Emerging Growth Company;
(iii) Subparagraphs (I)(i) and (ii) shall not prevent a member from publishing or otherwise distributing a research report, or prevent a research analyst from making a public appearance, concerning the effects of significant news or a significant event on the subject company within such 10- and three-day periods, and provided further that legal or compliance personnel authorize publication of that research report before it is issued or authorize the public appearance before it is made. Subparagraph (ii) will not prevent a member from publishing or otherwise distributing a research report pursuant to Securities Act Rule 139 regarding a subject company with "actively-traded securities," as defined in Rule 101(c)(1) of SEC Regulation M, and will not prevent a research analyst from making a public appearance concerning such a company.
(J) restrict or limit research analyst account trading in securities, any derivatives of such securities and funds whose performance is materially dependent upon the performance of securities covered by the research analyst, including:
(i) ensuring that research analyst accounts, supervisors of research analysts and associated persons with the ability to influence the content of research reports do not benefit in their trading from knowledge of the content or timing of a research report before the intended recipients of such research have had a reasonable opportunity to act on the information in the research report;
(ii) providing that no research analyst account may purchase or sell any security or any option on or derivative of such security in a manner inconsistent with the research analyst's recommendation as reflected in the most recent research report published by the member, and defining financial hardship circumstances, if any (e.g., unanticipated significant change in the personal financial circumstances of the beneficial owner of the research analyst account), in which the member will permit a research analyst account to trade in a manner inconsistent with such research analyst's most recently published recommendation; and
(iii) prohibiting a research analyst account from purchasing or receiving any security before an issuer's initial public offering if the issuer is principally engaged in the same types of business as companies that the research analyst follows;
(K) prohibit explicit or implicit promises of favorable research, a particular research rating or recommendation or specific research content as inducement for the receipt of business or compensation;
(L) restrict or limit activities by research analysts that can reasonably be expected to compromise their objectivity, including prohibiting:
(i) participation in pitches and other solicitations of investment banking services transactions; and
(ii) participation in road shows and other marketing on behalf of an issuer related to an investment banking services transaction;
(M) prohibit investment banking department personnel from directly or indirectly:
(i) directing a research analyst to engage in sales or marketing efforts related to an investment banking services transaction; and
(ii) directing a research analyst to engage in any communication with a current or prospective customer about an investment banking services transaction; and
(N) prohibit prepublication review of a research report by a subject company for purposes other than verification of facts.
(c) Content and Disclosure in Research Reports
(1) A member must establish, maintain and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to ensure that:
(A) purported facts in its research reports are based on reliable information; and
(B) any recommendation, rating or price target has a reasonable basis and is accompanied by a clear explanation of any valuation method used and a fair presentation of the risks that may impede achievement of the recommendation, rating or price target.
(2) A member that employs a rating system must clearly define in each research report the meaning of each rating in the system, including the time horizon and any benchmarks on which a rating is based. The definition of each rating must be consistent with its plain meaning.
(A) Irrespective of the rating system a member employs, a member must include in each research report that includes a rating the percentage of all securities rated by the member to which the member would assign a "buy," "hold" or "sell" rating.
(B) A member must disclose in each research report the percentage of subject companies within each of the "buy," "hold" and "sell" categories for which the member has provided investment banking services within the previous 12 months.
(C) The information required in paragraphs (c)(2)(A) and (B) must be current as of the end of the most recent calendar quarter or the second most recent calendar quarter if the publication date of the research report is less than 15 calendar days after the most recent calendar quarter.
(3) If a research report contains either a rating or price target for a subject company's security, and the member has assigned a rating or price target to such security for at least one year, the research report must include a line graph of the security's daily closing prices for the period that the member has assigned any rating or price target or for a three-year period, whichever is shorter. The graph must:
(A) indicate the dates on which the member assigned or changed each rating or price target;
(B) depict each rating or price target assigned or changed on those dates; and
(C) be current as of the end of the most recent calendar quarter (or the second most recent calendar quarter if the publication date of the research report is less than 15 calendar days after the most recent calendar quarter).
(4) A member must disclose in any research report at the time of publication or distribution of the report:
(A) if the research analyst or a member of the research analyst's household has a financial interest in the debt or equity securities of the subject company (including, without limitation, whether it consists of any option, right, warrant, future, long or short position), and the nature of such interest;
(B) if the research analyst has received compensation based upon (among other factors) the member's investment banking revenues;
(C) if the member or any of its affiliates:
(i) managed or co-managed a public offering of securities for the subject company in the past 12 months;
(ii) received compensation for investment banking services from the subject company in the past 12 months; or
(iii) expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from the subject company in the next three months;
(D) if, as of the end of the month immediately preceding the date of publication or distribution of a research report (or the end of the second most recent month if the publication or distribution date is less than 30 calendar days after the end of the most recent month), the member or its affiliates have received from the subject company any compensation for products or services other than investment banking services in the previous 12 months;
(E) if the subject company is, or over the 12-month period preceding the date of publication or distribution of the research report has been, a client of the member, and if so, the types of services provided to the issuer. Such services, if applicable, shall be identified as either investment banking services, non-investment banking securities-related services or non-securities services;
(F) if the member or its affiliates beneficially own 1% or more of any class of common equity securities of the subject company;
(G) if the member was making a market in the securities of the subject company at the time of publication or distribution of the research report;
(H) if the research analyst received any compensation from the subject company in the previous 12 months; and
(I) any other material conflict of interest of the research analyst or member that the research analyst or an associated person of the member with the ability to influence the content of a research report knows or has reason to know at the time of the publication or distribution of a research report.
(5) A member or research analyst will not be required to make a disclosure required by paragraph (c)(4) to the extent such disclosure would reveal material non-public information regarding specific potential future investment banking transactions.
(6) The disclosures required by this paragraph (c) must be presented on the front page of research reports or the front page must refer to the page on which the disclosures are found. Electronic research reports may provide a hyperlink directly to the required disclosures. All disclosures and references to disclosures required by this Rule must be clear, comprehensive and prominent.
(7) A member that distributes a research report covering six or more subject companies (a "compendium report") may direct the reader in a clear manner as to where the reader may obtain applicable current disclosures required by this paragraph (c). Electronic compendium reports may include a hyperlink directly to the required disclosures. Paper-based compendium reports must provide either a toll free number to call or a postal address to request the required disclosures and may also include a web address where the disclosures can be found.
(d) Disclosure in Public Appearances
(1) A research analyst must disclose in public appearances:
(A) if the research analyst or a member of the research analyst's household has a financial interest in the debt or equity securities of the subject company (including, without limitation, whether it consists of any option, right, warrant, future, long or short position), and the nature of such interest;
(B) if the member or its affiliates beneficially own 1% or more of any class of common equity securities of the subject company;
(C) if, to the extent the research analyst knows or has reason to know, the member or any affiliate received any compensation from the subject company in the previous 12 months;
(D) if the research analyst received any compensation from the subject company in the previous 12 months;
(E) if, to the extent the research analyst knows or has reason to know, the subject company currently is, or during the 12-month period preceding the date of publication or distribution of the research report, was, a client of the member. In such cases, the research analyst also must disclose the types of services provided to the subject company, if known by the research analyst; or
(F) any other material conflict of interest of the research analyst or member that the research analyst knows or has reason to know at the time of the public appearance.
(2) A member or research analyst will not be required to make a disclosure required by this paragraph (d) to the extent such disclosure would reveal material non-public information regarding specific potential future investment banking transactions of the subject company.
(3) Members must maintain records of public appearances by research analysts sufficient to demonstrate compliance by those research analysts with the applicable disclosure requirements in this paragraph (d). Such records must be maintained for at least three years from the date of the public appearance.
(e) Disclosure Required by Other Provisions
In addition to the disclosures required by paragraphs (c) and (d), members and research analysts must comply with all applicable disclosure provisions of FINRA Rule 2210 and the federal securities laws.
(f) Termination of Coverage
A member must promptly notify its customers if it intends to terminate coverage of a subject company. Such notice must be made using the member's ordinary means to disseminate research reports on the subject company to its various customers. The notice must be accompanied by a final research report, comparable in scope and detail to prior research reports, and include a final recommendation or rating. If impracticable to provide a final research report, recommendation or rating, a member must disclose to its customers its reason for terminating coverage.
(g) Distribution of Member Research Reports
A member must establish, maintain and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to ensure that a research report is not distributed selectively to internal trading personnel or a particular customer or class of customers in advance of other customers that the member has previously determined are entitled to receive the research report.
(h) Distribution of Third-Party Research Reports
(1) Subject to paragraph (h)(5), a registered principal or supervisory analyst approved pursuant to Incorporated NYSE Rule 344 must review for compliance with the applicable provisions of paragraph (h) and approve by signature or initial all third-party research reports distributed by a member.
(2) A member may not distribute third-party research if it knows or has reason to know such research is not objective or reliable.
(3) A member must establish, maintain and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to ensure that any third-party research it distributes contains no untrue statement of material fact and is otherwise not false or misleading. For the purposes of this paragraph (h)(3) only, a member's obligation to review a third-party research report extends to any untrue statement of material fact or any false or misleading information that:
(A) should be known from reading the report; or
(B) is known based on information otherwise possessed by the member.
(4) A member must accompany any third-party research report it distributes with, or provide a web address that directs a recipient to, disclosure of any material conflict of interest that can reasonably be expected to have influenced the choice of a third-party research provider or the subject company of a third-party research report, including the disclosures required by paragraphs (c)(4)(C), (c)(4)(F), (c)(4)(G) and (c)(4)(I) of this Rule.
(5) A member shall not be required to review a third-party research report to determine compliance with paragraph (h)(3) if such research report is an independent third-party research report.
(6) A member shall not be considered to have distributed a third-party research report for the purposes of paragraph (h)(4) where the research is an independent third-party research report and is made available by a member (a) upon request; (b) through a member-maintained website; or (c) to a customer in connection with a solicited order in which the registered representative has informed the customer, during the solicitation, of the availability of independent research on the solicited equity security and the customer requests such independent research.
(7) A member must ensure that a third-party research report is clearly labeled as such and that there is no confusion on the part of the recipient as to the person or entity that prepared the research report.
(i) Exemption for Members with Limited Investment Banking Activity
The provisions of paragraphs (b)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D), (F) and (G) shall not apply to members that over the previous three years, on average per year, have participated in 10 or fewer investment banking services transactions as manager or co-manager and generated $5 million or less in gross investment banking revenues from those transactions; provided, however, that with respect to paragraph (b)(2)(G), such members must establish information barriers or other institutional safeguards reasonably designed to ensure that research analysts are insulated from pressure by persons engaged in investment banking services activities or other persons, including sales and trading personnel, who might be biased in their judgment or supervision. For the purposes of this paragraph (i), the term "investment banking services transactions" include the underwriting of both corporate debt and equity securities but not municipal securities. Members that qualify for this exemption must maintain records sufficient to establish eligibility for the exemption and also maintain for at least three years any communication that, but for this exemption, would be subject to paragraphs (b)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D), (F) and (G).
(j) Exemption for Good Cause
Pursuant to the Rule 9600 Series, FINRA may in exceptional and unusual circumstances, conditionally or unconditionally grant an exemption from any requirement of this Rule for good cause shown after taking into account all relevant factors, to the extent such exemption is consistent with the purposes of the Rule, the protection of investors, and the public interest.

• • • Supplementary Material: --------------

.01 Efforts to Solicit Investment Banking Business

(a) FINRA interprets paragraph (b)(2)(L)(i) to prohibit in pitch materials any information about a member's research capacity in a manner that suggests, directly or indirectly, that the member might provide favorable research coverage. For example, FINRA would consider the publication in a pitch book or related materials of an analyst's industry ranking to imply the potential outcome of future research because of the manner in which such rankings are compiled. On the other hand, a member would be permitted to include in the pitch materials the fact of coverage and the name of the research analyst because such information alone does not imply favorable coverage.
Members must consider whether the facts and circumstances of any solicitation or engagement would warrant disclosure under Section 17(b) of the Securities Act.
(b) Paragraph (b)(2)(L)(i) shall not prevent a research analyst from attending a pitch meeting in connection with an initial public offering of an Emerging Growth Company that also is attended by investment banking personnel; provided, however, that a research analyst may not engage in otherwise prohibited conduct in such meetings, including efforts to solicit investment banking business.

.02 Joint Due Diligence. FINRA interprets paragraph (b)(1)(C) to prohibit the performance of joint due diligence (i.e., confirming the adequacy of disclosure in offering or other disclosure documents for a transaction) by the research analyst in the presence of investment banking department personnel prior to the selection by the issuer of the underwriters for the investment banking services transaction.

.03 Restrictions on Communications with Customers and Internal Personnel

(a) Consistent with the requirements of paragraph (b)(2)(M) of this Rule, no research analyst may engage in any communication with a current or prospective customer in the presence of investment banking department personnel or company management about an investment banking services transaction.
(b) FINRA interprets paragraph (b)(1)(C) of this Rule to require that any written or oral communication by a research analyst with a current or prospective customer or internal personnel related to an investment banking services transaction must be fair, balanced and not misleading, taking into consideration the overall context in which the communication is made.

.04 Disclosure of Non-Investment Banking Services Compensation. A member may satisfy the disclosure requirement in paragraph (c)(4)(D) with respect to receipt of non-investment banking services compensation by an affiliate by implementing policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent the research analyst and associated persons of the member with the ability to influence the content of research reports from directly or indirectly receiving information from the affiliate as to whether the affiliate received such compensation. However, a member must disclose receipt of non-investment banking services compensation by its affiliates from the subject company in the past 12 months when the research analyst or an associated person with the ability to influence the content of a research report has actual knowledge that an affiliate received such compensation during that time period.

.05 Submission of Sections of a Draft Research Reports for Factual Review. Consistent with the requirements of paragraphs (b)(2)(A) and (b)(2)(N), sections of a draft research report may be provided to non-investment banking personnel or to the subject company for factual review so long as:

(a) the sections of the report submitted do not contain the research summary, the research rating or the price target;
(b) a complete draft of the report is provided to legal or compliance personnel before sections of the report are submitted to non-investment banking personnel or the subject company; and
(c) if, after submitting sections of the report to non-investment banking personnel or the subject company, the research department intends to change the proposed rating or price target, it must first provide written justification to, and receive written authorization from, legal or compliance personnel for the change. The member must retain copies of any draft and the final version of such report for three years after publication.

.06 Beneficial Ownership of Equity Securities. With respect to paragraphs (c)(4)(F) and (d)(1)(B), beneficial ownership of any class of common equity securities shall be computed in accordance with the same standards used to compute ownership for purposes of the reporting requirements under Section 13(d) of the Exchange Act.

.07 Distribution of Member Research Products. With respect to paragraph (g), a member may provide different research products and services to different classes of customers. For example, a member may offer one research product for those with a long-term investment horizon ("investor research") and a different research product for those customers with a short-term investment horizon ("trading research"). These products may lead to different recommendations or ratings, provided that each is consistent with the meaning of the member's ratings system for each respective product. However, a member may not differentiate a research product based on the timing of receipt of a recommendation, rating or other potentially market moving information, nor may a member label a research product with substantially the same content as a different product as a means to allow certain customers to trade in advance of other customers. In addition, a member that provides different research products and services for different customers must inform its other customers that its alternative research products and services may reach different conclusions or recommendations that could impact the price of the equity security. Thus, for example, a member that offers trading research must inform its investment research customers that its trading research product may contain different recommendations or ratings that could result in short-term price movements contrary to the recommendation in its investment research.

.08 Ability to Influence the Content of a Research Report. For the purposes of this Rule, an associated person with the ability to influence the content of a research report is an associated person who is required to review the content of the research report or has exercised authority to review or change the research report prior to publication or distribution. This term does not include legal or compliance personnel who may review a research report for compliance purposes but are not authorized to dictate a particular recommendation, rating or price target.

.09 Obligations of Persons Associated with a Member. Consistent with Rule 0140, persons associated with a member must comply with such member's written policies and procedures as established pursuant to this Rule 2241. In addition, consistent with Rule 0140, it shall be a violation of this Rule for an associated person to engage in the restricted or prohibited conduct to be addressed through the establishment, maintenance and enforcement of policies and procedures required by this Rule or related Supplementary Material.

.10 Divesting Research Analyst Holdings. With respect to paragraph (b)(2)(J)(ii), FINRA shall not consider a research analyst account to have traded in a manner inconsistent with a research analyst's recommendation where a member has instituted a policy that prohibits any research analyst from holding securities, or options on or derivatives of such securities, of the companies in the research analyst's coverage universe; provided that the member establishes a reasonable plan to liquidate such holdings consistent with the principles in paragraph (b)(2)(J)(i) and such plan is approved by the member's legal or compliance department.

Adopted by SR-FINRA-2014-047 eff. Sept. 25, 2015 and Dec. 24, 2015.

Selected Notice: 15-30.

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