Top Tips for Using the SEC’s IAPD Disclosure Site

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Online tools developed by government agencies may not be known for their beautiful user interfaces or friendly support, but they tend to have large and reliable datasets that can become invaluable to those that know how to properly use them.

The (SEC) blandly-named —or IAPD—website is no exception. In 1996, Congress mandated that the SEC create an electronic process to respond to public inquiries about investment advisors, and the IAPD was born. The website has improved over the past several years to be more user-friendly, but for financial advisors, it’s the data that matters the most.

Let’s take a look at some strategies that financial advisors can use to get the most value out of the IAPD over time. (For related reading, see: )

Competitive Analysis

The financial advisory business has become increasingly competitive over time with the introduction of new technologies and so-called . As a result, it’s more important than ever to know and track your competition to stay ahead of the game.

Financial advisors can leverage the IAPD to quickly search for nearby competitors by simply selecting an individual or firm and inputting a zip code. The search results display a list of nearby firms with easy access to that can be used to look up everything from to client demographics. Of course, advisors may also want to check out their competitors’ websites and other resources from there.

These competitive analyses can be useful in a number of different situations. For example, a financial advisor who’s relocating to a new city may want to check out nearby competition to determine if the move is likely to be successful for not. Advisors may also use the tool to discover new networking opportunities with other financial advisors to develop strategic partnerships in the case that they offer complementary areas of expertise. (For related reading, see: )

Due Diligence

The IAPD website is a great starting point for due diligence on potential employees, as well as for self-checks to ensure accuracy. After all, potential clients will check the IAPD or before engaging with a financial advisor. The detailed reports generated by the IAPD include a wealth of information taken from the ADV Part 1 and Part 2, including past employers, qualifications, registrations, and disclosures. In fact, the IAPD will take users straight to an individual’s BrokerCheck report if they’re registered as a broker-dealer, which enables advisors to avoid double-searching on FINRA’s platform. IAR registrations are also hyperlinked for easy access for those who prefer FINRA’s solution.

There are many different use cases for this kind of information. For instance, a new practice may be looking for employees and use the IAPD to conduct a quick background check. The tool could also be used to look at the quality of talent at competing firms or as a tool to evaluate potentially hiring away financial advisors from other firms in a given area. Finally, it may be useful as a networking tool to discover networking opportunities among individuals.

Another benefit of the IAPD is that it can be used to look up unregistered advisors that have been the subject of a final regulatory event, convicted to plead guilty to a crime, or the subject of other violations.

The Bottom Line

The SEC’s IAPD website is a great resource for financial advisors who know how to use it. In addition to background checks and competitive analysis, financial advisors can research potential employees and identify networking opportunities within a geographic area. The tool also gives advisors the ability to avoid double-checking FINRA’s BrokerCheck since it includes direct links to any relevant information. (For related reading, see: )

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