In general, documents of all types can be delivered to clients electronically if those clients have consented to electronic delivery. We generally recommend that an RIA firm's standard investment advisory contract include an electronic delivery consent provision, so clients can opt-in upfront. Alternatively, clients can indicate willingness to receive electronic documents using a separate authorization form. Evidence of this consent – either in the form of a signed contract or separate authorization form – must be maintained by the firm. We frequently receives requests for sample electronic delivery authorization forms and provides templates free of charge to our compliance clients.
Questions related to electronic document storage are another common topic received by our former regulators and compliance professionals on staff. RIA firms are generally permitted to store records electronically, and if they do so, are generally not required to also keep hard copy records. Some additional requirements apply, however, notably the necessity of backing up these records, either to the cloud or by creating a local copy, and ensuring the prevention of unauthorized access. The specific details of how the advisory firm will meet these requirements should be detailed in the firm's policies and procedures or compliance manual.