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SEC Official Warns Funds, Advisors on Website Accuracy

Mutual fund companies and registered investment advisors need to do more to monitor the accuracy of the information on their websites, according to a top SEC official.

SEC examiners are finding inaccuracies in performance advertising claims and omissions of important information on fund and advisor websites, said Lori Richards, director of the SEC's office of compliance, inspections and examinations. SEC examiners find in some instances that websites include information that has not been cleared with advertising regulators at NASD Regulation, Richards said. She did not identify any firms by name or the frequency of problem website postings.

Richards made her comments in a speech last week on compliance issues arising from financial-services companies' use of the Internet. The conference sponsor, National Regulatory Services of Lakeville, Conn., is owned by Thomson Financial, publisher of Mutual Fund Market News.

Richards urged fund companies and registered investment advisors to do more than simply comply with regulatory minimums in their website advertising.

"Make sure that your ads don't ... overplay the potential for making money in this new economy," Richards said. "Don't imply or allude that you can replicate past performance. The industry cannot afford to let investors' expectations exceed that which is probable or possible."