FINRA plans to significantly expand the information it provides about brokers via its free online tool, BrokerCheck, in the coming months.
It will increase the number of customer complaints reported publicly, as well as extend the public disclosure period from two years to 10 years for the full record of a broker who leaves the industry. It also plans to make some information about former brokers available permanently, such as criminal convictions and certain civil actions and arbitration awards against the broker.
The changes will also formalize the process for current or former brokers to dispute the accuracy of the information.
“The greater amount of information that is available to the investing public will only provide the opportunity for investors to be better informed as to the investment professionals they are entrusting their assets to,” Steven Caruso a partner of Maddox Hargett & Caruso, P.C., said in a phone interview.
As part of this expansion, FINRA expects to continuously update, modify or remove information as it is made available.
“This additional information will benefit investors who are considering whether to conduct, or continue to conduct, business with a particular securities firm or broker," FINRA Chairman and CEO Richard Ketchum said in a press release. "[It] will provide valuable information about persons who have left the securities industry, often not of their own accord, who have established themselves in other segments of the financial services industry and can still cause great harm to the investing public.”
The process will be in two steps: in late August, FINRA will add on a history of complaints to the existing records of former and current brokers. The second step will be completed by the end of the year where the information added in August will be made permanently available and the formal dispute process will be set up.