The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. All told, FINRA oversees nearly 5,000 brokerage firms, about 173,000 branch offices and more than 677,000 registered securities representatives.
FINRA is responsible for regulatory oversight of all securities firms that do business with the public; professional training, testing and licensing of registered persons; arbitration and mediation; market regulation by contract for The NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc., the American Stock Exchange LLC, and the International Securities Exchange, LLC; and industry utilities, such as Trade Reporting Facilities and other over-the-counter operations.
FINRA was formed by a consolidation of the enforcement arm of the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Regulation, Inc., and the NASD. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission approved the merger on July 26, 2007. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services.
FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business-from registering and educating industry participants to examining securities firms; writing rules; enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws; informing and educating the investing public; providing trade reporting and other industry utilities; and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. It also performs market regulation under contract for The NASDAQ Stock Market, the American Stock Exchange, the International Securities Exchange and the Chicago Climate Exchange.
FINRA has approximately 3,000 employees and operates from Washington, DC, and New York, NY, with 15 District Offices around the country.
FINRA believes investor protection begins with education. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is the largest foundation in the United States dedicated to investor education. As of June 2007, the Foundation had approved $10.4 million in grants and an additional $10.2 million in direct investor education programming.
You can check the background of an investment professional with FINRA BrokerCheck. FINRA BrokerCheck is a free online tool to help investors check the professional background of current and former FINRA-registered securities firms and brokers. It should be the first resource investors turn to when choosing whether to do business with a particular broker or brokerage firm.
Features of FINRA BrokerCheck include:
* Search capabilities for both a broker and brokerage firm
* Online delivery of a report on a broker or brokerage firm
* Explanatory information to help investors better understand the content, context and source of the information provided
* Links to additional resources and tools
The information 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 features professional background information on approximately 660,000 currently registered brokers and 5,100 currently registered securities firms. Information is also available on thousands of formerly registered firms and brokers.