Checking the backgrounds of individual securities brokers and advisors who sell investments

Summary: Concerning the backgrounds of individual securities brokers and advisors who sell investment products, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offers assistance in checking their backgrounds.

To find information about securities brokers and advisors at FINRA ( The BrokerCheck system contains “disclosure information.” “This information is filed with the CRD system—the licensing and registration system operated by FINRA and used by the industry, state and federal regulators, and SROs (self regulating organizations) for purposes of registering and regulating securities firms and their brokers. The information provided through FINRA BrokerCheck is derived primarily from information contained in the CRD system.”1 

The FINRA BrokerCheck system contained information on current and former registered individuals and over on FINRA registered firms.

It includes information on the professional background, registration/license status, and behavior of registered firms and individual brokers. More specifically, it contains information on employment, terminations, registrations, criminal events, regulatory actions, revocations or suspensions, civil judicial actions, civil proceedings, pending investigations, written consumer-initiated complaints, arbitration, bonding, unsatisfied judgments and liens, and bankruptcy.2 

According to FINRA, “information made available through FINRA BrokerCheck is derived from the Central Registration Depository (CRD®) as reported on the industry registration / licensing forms – Form U-4 and Form BD. The Forms are approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and adopted by all self-regulatory and state securities regulators.

“Also included is regulatory information separately reported to the CRD by the SEC, self-regulatory organizations such as the FINRA and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and state securities regulators. The most current information on brokers and firms is made available. Historical information that is no longer reportable on Form U-4 and information contained solely within state records is available only through the appropriate state regulator.”3

1) FINRA—the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority—is a government-authorized not-for-profit organization that oversees U.S. broker-dealers.

2) FINRA BrokerCheck website, About FINRA BrokerCheck

3) ibid, FINRA BrokerCheck website

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