Q: How do I find out whether an investment adviser ever had problems with a government regulator or has a disciplinary history?

A: Most investment advisers must fill out a form called “Form ADV.” They must file their ADVs with either the SEC or the state securities agency in the state where they have their principal place of business, depending on the amount of assets they manage.

The ADV consists of two parts. Part I contains information about the adviser’s education, business, and whether they’ve had problems with regulators or clients. Part II outlines the adviser’s services, fees, and strategies. Before you hire someone to be your investment adviser, always ask for, and carefully read, both parts of the ADV.

You can get copies of Form ADVs from the investment adviser, your state securities regulator, or the SEC, depending on the size of the adviser. You can find out how to get in touch with your state securities regulator through the North American Securities Administrators Association, Inc.’s Web site or by calling (202) 737-0900. Ask your state securities regulator whether they’ve had any complaints about the adviser, and ask them to check the CRD.

If the SEC registers the investment adviser, you can get the Form ADV at a cost of 24 cents per page (plus tax and postage) from the SEC at

Office of Public Reference
Room 1580
100 F Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20549-2521
phone: (202) 551-8090
fax: (202) 777-1027
e-mail: publicinfo@sec.gov