finra

Ombudsman Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What is an Ombudsman?
  2. How can the Office of the Ombudsman help?
  3. What types of problems does the Ombudsman handle?
  4. What does an Ombudsman not do?
  5. Who may contact the Ombudsman?
  6. Do I need to disclose my name if I want to discuss a complaint or concern with the Office of the Ombudsman?
  7. If I complain to the Ombudsman, who will find out about it?
  8. Does the Ombudsman's Office respond to all inquiries?
  9. Does the Ombudsman have authority to solve every problem?
  10. Will the Ombudsman act as an advocate on my behalf?

 

1. What is an Ombudsman?
An Ombudsman is a designated neutral that facilitates the informal resolution of concerns. FINRA's Ombudsman works with any individual or entity that interacts with FINRA to assist them with exploring and determining options to help resolve conflicts, problematic issues or concerns. Our primary objective is to be an advocate for fair process and fair administration.
2. How can the Office of the Ombudsman help?
FINRA's Office of the Ombudsman is available to help you in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:
  • listening to complaints, concerns, problems and issues;
  • helping you to explore and evaluate options;
  • clarifying certain decisions, policies and practices;
  • creating access to information, if appropriate, and helping to open channels of communication;
  • acting as an alternative channel of communication to management and FINRA staff;
  • helping to ensure that established policies and practices are functioning properly and equitably;
  • referring to helpful resources;
  • assisting in surfacing issues so they can be addressed in formal processes;
  • taking objective action to resolve matters that fall outside the established forums and procedures; and
  • identifying new issues and opportunities for systemic change for FINRA and bringing systemic issues to the FINRA's attention for resolution.
3. What types of problems does the Ombudsman handle?
The Ombudsman handles any concern or complaint about operations, enforcement or other FINRA activities. If you are not sure that your problems fit within these categories, or are unclear as to whether it is a matter for the Ombudsman's Office, call us to find out. The Ombudsman's Office was not created to replace existing FINRA programs; for example, concerns regarding FINRA regulated entities and individuals may be better directed to the Investor Complaint Center and Dispute Resolution.
4. What does an Ombudsman not do?
The FINRA Ombudsman does not:
  • participate in formal investigations or play a role in a formal resolution process;
  • overturn any decisions of existing dispute resolution or appellate bodies;
  • serve in any role that compromises the neutrality of the Ombudsman's Office; and
  • make binding decisions or mandate policies.
The Ombudsman's Office does not participate in or replace already existing FINRA processes or programs. Where established procedures currently exist regarding the application of rules, policies, procedures or interpretation, the Ombudsman's Office will direct the complaint to the appropriate department and monitor the outcome, if necessary. The Ombudsman's Office will attempt to assist you in identifying several options for resolving your concern, even if it does not become directly involved in the matter.
5. Who may contact the Ombudsman?
Anyone with a complaint or concern regarding FINRA may contact the Office of the Ombudsman. This includes investors, securities industry professionals, FINRA employees, and any business or individual that interacts with FINRA.
6. Do I need to disclose my name if I want to discuss a complaint or concern with the Office of the Ombudsman?
No. You have the option of submitting your concern or complaint anonymously.
7. If I complain to the Ombudsman, who will find out about it?
Generally, your discussion with the Ombudsman is absolutely confidential and we will not divulge information unless you give us permission to do so. We may have to share information if there is a threat of imminent risk or serious harm, or you have raised an issue that legally requires FINRA to take action. You may also choose to voice your complaint or concern anonymously.
8. Does the Ombudsman's Office respond to all inquiries?
The Ombudsman's Office strives to respond to all inquiries it receives in a prompt and complete manner. In rare and limited circumstances, the Ombudsman's Office may exercise its discretion on when and whether to act upon a concern of an individual who contacts the Office. The Ombudsman may also initiate action on a problem he or she identifies directly.
9. Does the Ombudsman have authority to solve every problem?
No, that is not the purpose of the Ombudsman's Office. FINRA already has many programs and procedures in place for solving problems, resolving disputes, handling complaints and addressing concerns. The Ombudsman will help you identify options, make sure they are available to you and help you to use them most effectively. The Ombudsman will consider steps necessary to ensure that the program and procedure(s) of the existing forums are operating properly and appropriately, and are equitably carried out by staff. However, the Ombudsman does not have the authority to overturn decisions made in these forums, but will make recommendations to management regarding any problems found.
10. Will the Ombudsman act as an advocate on my behalf?
The Office of the Ombudsman does not represent or act as an advocate for any person in a dispute with FINRA, and does not take sides on any issues brought to its attention. It promotes fair processes, and considers the interest and concerns of all parties to a situation.