1. What is FINRA?
FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry—brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the SEC, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit www.finra.org.
2. 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 investment professionals 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 investment professionals. FINRA also provides the public with access to relevant information about formerly registered investment professionals 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 hyperlinks provided within BrokerCheck to the IAPD website.
3. How can I request a BrokerCheck report?
You can request a BrokerCheck report from FINRA by:
- visiting BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck;
- calling the BrokerCheck toll-free Hotline at (800) 289-9999; or
- 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
4. What is the cost for a BrokerCheck Report?
FINRA BrokerCheck reports are free.
5. What information is NOT disclosed through BrokerCheck?
BrokerCheck does not disclose information that investment professionals have not reported or are not required to report. This could include, for example: (1) non-investment-related civil litigation such as civil protective orders; (2) customer complaints that do not allege sales practice violations, fraud or theft; (3) certain personal or confidential information (such as Social Security numbers, residential addresses); or (4) arrests that did not result in a charge or conviction, and misdemeanor charges or convictions that are not investment-related or do not involve theft or a “breach of trust,” such as disorderly conduct or assault. Previously reported information that is no longer required to be reported (such as judgments or liens that have been satisfied) is also not disclosed through BrokerCheck.
In addition, FINRA reserves the right to exclude confidential customer information, offensive and potentially defamatory language or information that raises significant identity theft or privacy concerns that are not outweighed by investor protection concerns.
Under FINRA's current public disclosure policy, in certain limited circumstances, most often pursuant to a court order, information may be expunged from the CRD system.
6. What has changed in BrokerCheck?
Please review the BrokerCheck Release Notes, which provide a brief description of recent changes to the system.
7. 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.
8. Does FINRA collect any of my personal information?
FINRA will collect your personal information only in those situations where you request to have a BrokerCheck report mailed to you.
9. What is the source of the information that is provided through BrokerCheck?
Information about investment professionals 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 investment professionals, 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 investment professionals and brokerage firms updated?
Generally, currently registered investment professionals and brokerage firms are required to update their professional and disciplinary information in CRD within 30 days. Under most circumstances, information reported by firms, investment professionals 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, or for investment professionals who are no longer registered and not subject to the jurisdiction of FINRA or a national securities exchange.
11. 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.
12. How can I obtain a list of registered investment professionals, their brokerage firm affiliation and location?
FINRA does not publish a list of registered investment professionals. However, you can look up individual investment professionals through BrokerCheck.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. Will the information that BrokerCheck provides tell me the branch office where an investment professional is located?
Yes, the address(es) of any registered branch(es) where an investment professional 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.
16. How can I determine which qualifying exams an investment professional has passed?
A summary of the types of exams an investment professional 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 investment professional has passed.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. How can I tell if an investment professional has not paid an arbitration award?
FINRA maintains this page with a list of firms and individuals responsible for unpaid arbitration awards. The list includes firms and individuals whose FINRA registration has been terminated, suspended, canceled or revoked, or who have been expelled from FINRA. These firms and individuals are no longer FINRA members or associated with a FINRA member, although they may be operating in another area of the financial services industry where FINRA registration is not required. The list also shows those firms and individuals with unpaid customer arbitration awards where bankruptcy is a defense to the non-payment. These firms or individuals may be active in the brokerage industry, notwithstanding the unpaid award, due to the bankruptcy defense. Information is also available in the BrokerCheck detailed report for firms and individuals with unpaid awards.