While the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s revamped plan to require firms to provide a hyperlink to BrokerCheck on their websites is less burdensome than the original 2013 version, industry groups complain the new version still needs work.
The proposed rule change would require each of a member’s websites to include a “readily apparent reference and hyperlink” to BrokerCheck on the initial Web page that the member intends to be viewed by retail investors, as well as any other Web page that includes a professional profile of one or more registered persons who conduct business with retail investors.
The Financial Services Institute, which primarily represents independent broker-dealers and their affiliated advisors, told the SEC in its Monday comment letter that while it appreciates that the latest version of the rule wouldn’t require BrokerCheck links on social media sites and directories, FSI wants further clarity on how the rule applies to advisors who are independent contractors.
FSI notes that while its broker-dealer members don’t anticipate “significant issues in implementing the ‘readily apparent reference’ for their own websites, “it is unclear from this language whether the client-facing website of a financial advisor engaged in an independent contractor relationship with their broker-dealer would be considered a ‘member website’ or a third-party website” under FINRA’s plan.
“Specific guidance” is also needed that “retains the rule’s exclusion of social media and other third-party websites and clarifies the status of websites operated by independent contractor financial advisors,” FSI said.
Further, FSI said that it wants clarity on how the rule applies to third-party websites that contain the professional profiles of financial advisors that engage in a networking relationship with these third parties, such as websites owned and operated by credit unions and other non-FINRA members.
But the North American Securities Administrators Association told the SEC in its comment letter that FINRA’s new plan omits one of the “most effective” parts of the original plan: “deep links” to individual broker records.