The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority made live on Monday statistics regarding the “trend line” detailing the number of broker-dealers entering and leaving the profession.

FINRA CEO Robert Cook noted Thursday at an event held by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association the decline in the number of broker-dealers.

The FINRA Statistics page says that the data “will be updated on a regular basis.”

There were 635,902 registered reps at the end of 2016, down from 643,322 in 2015, according to the data.

A total of 50,641 individuals, or 8%, left the industry in 2016 while 43,221, or 7%, were new entrants.

The net number of FINRA member firms has declined every year since 2002, when there were 5,374 firms. There were 3,835 firms in 2016.

“There has been a decline,” Cook said at the event. “We have new broker-dealers coming in, but we have BDs leaving as well. That’s been happening for some time as well.”

Said Cook: “We have fewer leaving now than in the past, but we also have fewer entrants. We see the decline in the smaller BDs.”

FINRA member firms, 2002-2016. Source: FINRA

While such a decline doesn’t have “a big impact on FINRA per se, it doesn’t affect our operations, but it does matter and is an area of concern…. part of the story is consolidation, smaller firms being absorbed,” Cook continued. “Does that mean the industry is contracting? Depends on how you slice and dice it.”

Cook reiterated similar comments that he made in July that he’s “worried” about the smaller pool of BDs. “I do think there’s a role for the smaller broker-dealers to play. They sometimes provide services to communities who otherwise might be underserved, and they sometimes provide access to capital markets, especially municipalities, that might otherwise be underserved. And small business is an engine of job growth and we should be thinking of this issue of wanting to promote that engine of job growth,” Cook said then.

Regulators, he continued, should look at the regulatory requirements and burdens on small firms.

“Are there things we can do to address those potentially through differentiation in our rules, or differentiation in the way we oversee firms, that will help create an environment where we can strike the right balance in terms of accommodating small firms and not compromising investor protection?”

— Check out FINRA Mulls Releasing ‘Bulk’ BrokerCheck Data on ThinkAdvisor.