November 12, 2013

FINRA Expands BrokerCheck

New BrokerCheck widget also available to third-party websites

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from The Advisor's Professional Library
  • Nothing but the Best Execution Along with the many other fiduciary obligations owed by RIAs, firms owe a duty to seek best execution of clients’ transactions.  If they fail to do, RIAs violate Section 206 of the Investment Advisers Act.
  • Client Commission Practices and Soft Dollars RIAs should always evaluate whether the products and services they receive from broker-dealers are appropriate. The SEC suggested that an RIA’s failure to stay within the scope of the Section 28(e) safe harbor may violate the advisor’s fiduciary duty to clients, so RIAs must evaluate their soft dollar relationships on a regular basis to ensure they are disclosed properly and that they do not negatively impact the best execution of clients’ transactions.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced Tuesday that it has enhanced BrokerCheck to allow investors to now search both the BrokerCheck and Investment Adviser Registration Depository record of any securities professional or firm directly on the FINRA home page.

The BrokerCheck search results, FINRA says, are presented in a graphical timeline, illustrating a more user-friendly view of an industry professional’s employment status and history, industry registrations, and any reportable events such as customer disputes or disciplinary actions that may have occurred during his or her career.

FINRA says that it will also make the new BrokerCheck widget available to third-party websites, allowing visitors to those websites direct access to securities professionals’ or firms’ BrokerCheck or IAPD reports without having to visit the FINRA or Securities and Exchange Commission websites.

The IARD is an electronic filing system for investment advisors sponsored by the SEC and the North American Securities Administrators Association, with FINRA serving as the developer and operator of the system.

“Investors using BrokerCheck will encounter a more user-friendly interface that allows them to quickly find information that can help them decide if an investment professional is right for them,” said Derek Linden, FINRA Executive Vice President, Registration and Disclosure, in a statement.

Jonathan Henschen, with the broker-dealer recruiting firm Henschen & Associates, says that he uses BrokerCheck daily and finds the updated version saves him “time from having to go to the ‘detailed report’ unless you want details on disclosure events.”

Time at firms, Henschen says, “is represented by timelines and red dots show up along the timeline as to when disclosure events occurred. For a quick snapshot the new system is a time saver for someone like me that is neck-deep in the business.”

However, he says an average client “reading details on disclosures or seeing high job frequency [changes] will typically lack discernment of the industry jargon on disclosures and have little understanding that job changes often times can be a result of firms being sold, closed or merged.” More information, therefore, “does not ensure more understanding or objectivity.”

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Check out Beware a Fiduciary ‘Wild West’: Graff on ThinkAdvisor.

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