1. How can I check the background of an investment professional or firm?
The easiest way for you to check the background of an investment professional or firm is through FINRA BrokerCheck®, an online database that provides information about brokers and brokerage firms, as well as investment adviser firms and representatives. You can find out, among other things, whether your broker or investment adviser representative is licensed in your state to conduct business or whether he or she has been sanctioned by securities regulators for violations of investment-related regulation(s) or statute(s). While FINRA BrokerCheck should be your first stop for information, you should also consider consulting your state securities regulator, local consumer and investment groups, or others who have established business relationships with a particular broker or investment adviser representative.
2. What is FINRA?
FINRA is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. We oversee nearly 4,430 brokerage firms, 162,155 branch offices and 629,530 registered securities representatives. Our chief role is to protect investors by maintaining the fairness of the U.S. capital markets.
3. Why does FINRA offer the BrokerCheck service?
FINRA is dedicated to creating a safer environment for investors in today's complex investment landscape. To that end, FINRA has adopted rules for disclosing information about brokerage firms and brokers registered with FINRA or a national securities exchange to help investors determine whether to conduct, or continue to conduct, business with these brokerage firms and brokers. FINRA also provides the public with access to relevant information about formerly registered brokers who, although no longer in the securities industry in a registered capacity, may work in other investment-related industries or may seek to attain other positions of trust with potential investors. Through its BrokerCheck service, FINRA also provides basic information about investment adviser representatives and firms from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) database. More detailed information about these individuals and firms can be obtained via the provided hyperlinks to the IAPD website.
4. How can I request a BrokerCheck Report?
You can request a BrokerCheck report from FINRA in any of the following ways:
- Visiting BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck;
- Calling the BrokerCheck toll-free Hotline at (800) 289-9999;
- Submitting a request via U.S. mail or fax. The BrokerCheck mailing address and fax number are:
P.O. Box 9495
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-9495
Fax: (240) 386-4750
5. What is the cost for a BrokerCheck Report?
FINRA BrokerCheck reports are free.
6. Will the investment professional or firm know I am checking on them?
No. Neither individuals nor firms are made aware of any search you conduct or any report you request.
7. Does FINRA collect any of my personal information?
FINRA will collect your personal information only in those situations where you request that a BrokerCheck report be mailed to you.
8. Is there a limit to the number of searches I can perform?
No. However, FINRA BrokerCheck requires you to complete an authentication page before you view your first report and after every ten reports.
9. What is the source of the information that is provided through BrokerCheck?
Information about brokers and brokerage firms made available through FINRA BrokerCheck is derived from the Central Registration Depository (CRD), the securities industry online registration and licensing database, as reported on industry registration/licensing forms brokers, brokerage firms and regulators complete. BrokerCheck also provides basic information about investment adviser firms and representatives from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure database.
10. How often is the information about brokers and brokerage firms updated?
Generally, currently registered brokers and brokerage firms are required to update their professional and disciplinary information in CRD within 30 days. Under most circumstances, information reported by firms, brokers and regulators is available in BrokerCheck the next business day. Information is usually not updated for firms that are no longer registered with FINRA or a national securities exchange, and for brokers who are no longer registered and not subject to the jurisdiction of FINRA or a national securities exchange.
11. How do I use BrokerCheck?
If you are looking for a broker or brokerage firm, simply perform a BrokerCheck search after accepting the FINRA BrokerCheck Terms & Conditions. Once you perform a search, you can view a report summary on a brokerage firm or broker. You then have the option to download, print, or click through a complete report about a firm or broker’s background. The BrokerCheck report reflects information that FINRA requires brokers, brokerage firms, and regulators to report as part of the securities industry’s registration and licensing process.
If you are looking for an investment adviser firm or representative, perform a BrokerCheck search after accepting the FINRA BrokerCheck Terms & Conditions. Once you perform a search, click on the “Investment Adviser Firm” or “Investment Adviser Rep” hyperlink to open a new window for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure database. After completing the authentication page, you can view the available information for the investment adviser firm or representative.
12. I am experiencing difficulty accessing certain BrokerCheck Web pages. What could be the reason?
In most cases, the technical difficulties experienced in accessing BrokerCheck are related to how a user's computer is set-up. In order to access BrokerCheck, you must have cookies enabled on your computer. Cookies are strings of text that transfer information between Web browsers and Web servers. There are several uses for cookies. For the purposes of the BrokerCheck system, cookies are utilized to help with back-end interaction, which ultimately improves the utility of the system.
Below are some general guidelines that will help you ensure you have enabled cookies on your Web browser.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0+
- Select "Internet Options" from the Tools menu.
- Click on the "Privacy" tab.
- Click the "Default" button (or manually slide the bar down to "Medium") under "Settings".
- Click "OK".
Mozilla Firefox (10.0 final release and earlier)
- Go to the "Tools" menu.
- Select "Options".
- Select the "Privacy" icon in the left panel.
- Check the box corresponding to "Allow sites to set cookies".
- Click "OK" to save changes.
- Type chrome://settings/content into the browser address bar and press the Enter key.
- Select the “Allow local data to be set (recommended)” selection. Your change is automatically saved.
13. Why did I get 'no search results' for the individual or firm I was checking?
There could be a number of reasons why the brokerage firm, broker, investment adviser or investment adviser representative you are looking for is not listed, such as:
- The name of the firm or individual you are searching for is misspelled. Revise your search by entering only part of the name of the firm or individual.
- The CRD Number, SEC Number, or zip code are incorrect or invalid. Ensure that you have entered the correct information or try using different criteria for your search.
- The individual is not included in BrokerCheck or the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure database because he or she:
- is not currently registered with FINRA, a national securities exchange or a state securities regulator and has not been so registered within the last 10 years, or
- has not been registered with FINRA, a national securities exchange or a state securities regulator within the last 10 years and either:
- is not the subject of a final regulatory action;
- has not been convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to certain crimes;
- has not been subject to a civil injunction involving investment-related activity or been found in a civil court to have been involved in a violation of investment-related statutes or regulations; or
- has not been named as a respondent or defendant in an arbitration or civil litigation in which he or she was alleged to have committed a sales practice violation, and which resulted in an award or civil judgment against the individual.
14. How can I find the contact information for an investment professional or firm?
Contact information, including corporate addresses, is available via BrokerCheck and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure database. You can also review the complete list of FINRA-registered brokerage firms, which includes contact information.
15. Can I check the background of an individual broker or investment adviser representative who has not been registered within the last 10 years?
BrokerCheck provides information on individuals who are currently registered or have been registered within the last 10 years. In addition, as described in Question 13, BrokerCheck provides information on certain individuals who have not been registered within the last 10 years. Information on a broker or investment adviser representative who has not been registered in the last 10 years also may be available from your state securities regulator.
16. How can I obtain a list of registered brokers, their brokerage firm affiliation and location?
FINRA does not publish a list of registered brokers. However, you can look up individual brokers through BrokerCheck.
17. How can I verify if a brokerage firm is registered with FINRA?
You can verify that a brokerage firm is FINRA registered by checking the Registrations section of the firm's BrokerCheck report. Every brokerage firm on FINRA BrokerCheck is currently, or was previously, registered with FINRA or a national securities exchange. However, there will not be current information provided on those firms that are not presently registered with FINRA or a national securities exchange.
18. What is a Broker Comment or Investment Adviser Comment?
A Broker Comment or Investment Adviser Comment is information provided by a person who is not currently registered but is still subject to BrokerCheck or Investment Adviser Public Disclosure. Such persons may submit a Broker Comment or Investment Adviser Comment to update or provide context to information disclosed about them through BrokerCheck or Investment Adviser Public Disclosure.
19. Will the information that BrokerCheck provides tell me the branch office where a broker is located?
Yes, the address(es) of any registered branch(es) where a broker is currently conducting business will be provided on the Report Summary page of the BrokerCheck report, as well as in the full report under the Branch Office Location section.
20. How can I determine which qualifying exams a broker has passed?
A summary of the types of exams a broker has passed is provided in the Broker Qualification section of the Report Summary. The full report contains a complete listing of all securities exams the broker has passed.
21. How can I use the arbitration case number I see on the BrokerCheck report to obtain information about that specific arbitration?
Clicking on the hyperlinked arbitration case number in your report will take you to FINRA Arbitration Awards Online. Once you accept the terms and conditions, the full text of the arbitration award, if available, will be provided to you. You may view more information about FINRA Arbitration Awards Online on the FINRA website.
22. Why is the regulatory action docket/case number I see on the BrokerCheck report hyperlinked?
The hyperlink indicates that the regulatory action is available on FINRA Disciplinary Actions Online. This database provides FINRA disciplinary actions that were issued during 2005 or later, and are eligible for publication pursuant to FINRA Rule 8313 (Release of Disciplinary Complaints, Decisions and Other Information). The database also includes opinions issued by the SEC and federal appellate courts that relate to FINRA disciplinary actions that have been appealed. To access the disciplinary action and any associated opinion, click on the hyperlinked docket/case number in the BrokerCheck report and accept the terms and conditions for FINRA Disciplinary Actions Online.
23. How can I narrow the results I get when I search by zip code?
To limit the results you get when searching by zip code, try decreasing the search radius of the zip code search or adding an additional search criterion such as the name or CRD Number of the firm or individual you are checking.