Securities Industry Registrations: Getting and Maintaining a FINRA Registration

The securities industry is a highly regulated area. Federal and state agencies, as well as non-governmental regulators like FINRA and the securities exchanges oversee the activities of securities professionals.


The information below explains who needs to register with FINRA, what it takes to get and maintain a FINRA registration, how you can check who is registered and where to file a complaint when dealing with a problem.


Registration Required


Any person associated with a brokerage firm who engages in the firm's securities business must register with FINRA. This includes partners, officers, directors, branch managers, department supervisors and salespersons. The required registration(s) will depend on the functions and duties of the individual, and the type of securities involved.


For details on the requirements for different functions and types of securities, see:

  • Registered Principals: Requirements for individuals actively engaged in the management of a firm's investment banking or securities business.


  • Registered Representatives: Requirements for individuals actively involved in a firm's investment banking or securities business.

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.