How to Become a Member – Introduction
This section of FINRA's Web site provides basic guidance for applicants preparing to seek membership in FINRA (applicants), including a description of the filing and qualification requirements, and admission standards that must be satisfied before FINRA membership is granted. This is a general guide provided for the benefit of applicants and should not be considered a replacement for the appropriate rules and regulations. Consult the applicable rules and/or contact the Membership Application Program Group (MAP Group) at (212) 858-4000 (press 5 when the automated message begins) with any questions about filing the New Member Application Form (Form NMA).
If, after reviewing this section of the Web site, you need more information, help completing forms or clarification of registration requirements, contact the MAP Group at (212) 858-4000 (press 5 when the automated message begins) or an application specialist in FINRA's Department of Regulatory Review and Disclosure through the FINRA Gateway Call Center at (301) 590-6500.
For technical questions about the Form NMA, contact the FINRA Gateway Call Center at (301) 590-6500.
Note: Some applicants use service bureaus for assistance with completing membership applications. Electing to use a service bureau does not relieve an applicant of its regulatory responsibilities, including the timely submission of complete and accurate registration-related filings. FINRA does not endorse or recommend any specific service bureau.
Submitting a FINRA membership application is a serious undertaking and should be considered carefully. You may wish to consider alternatives to applying for membership depending on your desired goals. For instance, working for an existing member firm or managing the branch office of a firm might achieve your objectives without going through this application process.
If you decide to file an application, you must fully understand all of the substantive and procedural requirements. Moreover, you must be in a position to provide, in a timely manner, information that addresses how you will satisfy the Standards for Admission and other applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. The first step is to read the NASD Rule 1010 Series, this section of the web site in detail, and the applicable FINRA and SEC rules and regulations in detail.
Review the Membership Application Process
The NASD Rule 1010 Series sets out the substantive standards and procedural guidelines for the entire membership application and registration process. It is imperative that prospective applicants read and fully understand the application requirements, Standards of Admission in NASD Rule 1014 and the membership process before submitting an application.
The Rules require applicants to strictly adhere to specific deadlines. Failure to submit complete and accurate information in a timely manner can result in the rejection of the application at the time it is filed (i.e., for failure to file a substantially complete application) or lapse of the application (i.e., termination of the application for failure to completely and timely respond to requests for information) and loss of a portion of or all monies paid to FINRA.
Reserve Firm Name
Under Article IV, Section 2 of the FINRA By-Laws, no firm shall be admitted to membership in FINRA having a name which is identical to the name of another FINRA member or a name so similar to any such name that it tends to confuse or mislead others. Applicants should reserve a name in advance of filing a new membership application to avoid an unnecessary delay in the application process. A name will be reserved for one hundred and twenty (120) days from the date of approval thereof, during which time FINRA must receive the notarized Form BD. Once the Form BD has been filed, the approved name will be held so long as the applicant's FINRA registration status in CRD is "Pending Approval." Please review the guidance contained herein under the heading Firm Name . To reserve a name, complete and submit to FINRA the reservation form linked in the Firm Name section.
Other Resources for Applicants
All FINRA new member applicants must submit applications online using the electronic Form NMA via the FINRA Firm Gateway. In order to obtain access to the Form NMA and submit a new member application, prospective applicants must:
1. Fund the applicant's CRD account. FINRA requires applicants to fund, via electronic funds transfer, the general account from which the application, examination, state and other registration fees will be drawn. Initial payment of the application fee and funding for the applicant's CRD account cannot be made by hard-copy checks.
2. Submit hard-copy forms.
3. Access Form NMA via the Firm Gateway. All FINRA membership applicants must submit applications online using the electronic Form NMA via the FINRA Firm Gateway. The Firm Gateway provides consolidated access to many FINRA forms and applications, including CRD.
Upon notification that system entitlements have been granted (that is, after FINRA processes an applicant's hard-copy forms mentioned in 2. (a) above), FINRA will provide access to the Firm Gateway to electronically submit: (i) Forms U4 for proposed associated persons; (ii) Forms BR for each proposed location; (iii) amended Form BD, as appropriate; and (iv) Form NMA.