Securities Industry Registrations: Getting and Maintaining a FINRA Registration

The securities industry is highly regulated. Federal and state agencies, as well as non-governmental regulators like FINRA and the securities exchanges oversee the activities of securities professionals. This includes registered principals, who actively engaged in the management of a firm's investment banking or securities business and registered representatives, who are involved in a firm's investment banking or securities business.

Registration Required

Any person associated with a brokerage firm who engages in the firm's securities business must register with FINRA. Registration information is housed in FINRA’s Central Registration Depository (CRD).

For someone to become registered as a securities professional, their securities firm must file with FINRA a Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer, commonly referred to as Form U4. The form provides considerable information about a person’s work history, outside business activities and disclosures including criminal and civil actions, and regulatory actions. Each registered individual receives a unique CRD number that is you throughout their career in the securities industry. Investors can look up a securities professional’s registration information using FINRA BrokerCheck.

Testing and Qualifications

Securities professionals must pass qualifying tests before they can engage in a given activity. FINRA administers these tests, which cover a range of topics.

Learn more about principal and registered representative testing.

Continuing Education

Once registered with a brokerage firm, an individual must comply with FINRA rules, federal and state securities regulations, and the firm's policies to maintain the registration. These rules include mandatory continuing education through programs offered at the firm and industry-wide levels.

Check Professional Status Online

Use BrokerCheck, a free tool, to research the professional backgrounds of brokerage firms and brokers currently or formerly registered with FINRA or a national securities exchange, as well as current or former investment adviser firms and representatives. BrokerCheck information is drawn from filings by regulators, firms and investment professionals. It includes current licensing status and history, employment history and, if any, reported regulatory, customer dispute, criminal and other matters.

Investor Complaints

Investors have a right to complain about any aspect of their relationship with a securities firm or registered individual. You can direct a complaint to the firm, FINRA, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or any state securities regulator. To file a complaint with FINRA, use the Investor Complaint Center.