May 17, 2012

FINRA Updates BrokerCheck With More Advisor Information

Several of the changes implemented by FINRA address recommendations made in a January 2011 study by the SEC

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  • Privacy Policies and Rules Whether an RIA is SEC or state-registered, the firm must have policies and procedures in effect to protect clients’ privacy. Policies and procedures should explicitly require an RIA to send out its privacy notice each year.
  • Client Communication and Miscommunication RIA policies and procedures must specify what type of communications should be retained. The safest course of action is for RIAs to retain all communications—to clients, from clients, and about client accounts.  To comply with fiduciary obligations, communications must be thorough and not mislead.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced Wednesday that it has updated BrokerCheck to help users more easily access broker-dealer and investment advisor registration information.

Several of the changes implemented by FINRA address recommendations made in a January 2011 study by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

FINRA says the latest improvements now give investors:

  • centralized access to licensing and registration information on current and former brokers and brokerage firms, and investment advisor representatives and investment advisor firms;
  • the ability to search for and locate a financial services professional based on main office and branch locations, and the ability to conduct ZIP code radius searches (in increments of 5, 15 or 25 miles); and
  • access to expanded educational content available on BrokerCheck, including new help icons that clarify commonly referenced terms throughout the system and within BrokerCheck reports.

In February, FINRA issued Regulatory Notice 12-10, soliciting comments on ways to facilitate and increase investor use of BrokerCheck. The comment period ended on April 27 and FINRA says it is reviewing the 71 comments received.

FINRA announced in early March its plans to revamp BrokerCheck to not only make it easier for investors to track down information about their broker—including “unifying” the search capabilities for BrokerCheck and the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure database—but to also expand the types of information investors can get about their broker.

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