FINRA and other regulators conduct targeted exams, known as sweeps, to gather information and carry out investigations. Sweep information is used to focus examinations and pinpoint regulatory response to emerging issues.
The number of firms included in targeted exams varies and the firms that are included are carefully chosen-in some cases only a few firms are included and in others, dozens. Firms are selected based on a variety of factors, including level and nature of business activity in a particular area, customer complaints and regulatory history, and prior examination findings. By limiting our inquiry to a small number of firms, sweeps allow us to reduce the regulatory burden on the majority of firms.
To help firms inform their compliance programs, FINRA publishes a summary of the information requested in certain sweep letters.