On-line information explaining the licenses of financial planners, investment advisors, and insurance representatives

Summary: This article indicates where to find online information about the licenses of investment advisors, brokers, and insurance brokers / agents.

Concerning advisor licensing, there are a myriad of securities, insurance, and other licenses. Such licenses have various requirements for experience, education, and testing that you can research on-line should you have the need. To summarize all the various federal and state licensing requirements is beyond the scope of this article. This article helps you find this information on line. For additional information, see the links at the bottom of this page.

The U.S. SEC provides useful information to research advisor licensing. Their main page is http://www.sec.gov. On the SEC homepage, look for “Investor Information – Check Out Brokers and Advisers” at http://www.sec.gov/investor/brokers.htm.

Regarding securities brokers, The Skilled Investor has published a separate article describing the BrokerCheck system of FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which is a government-authorized not-for-profit organization that oversees U.S. broker-dealers. Go to https://brokercheck.finra.org/. Also, see: Checking the backgrounds of individual securities brokers and advisors who sell investments

In addition, the CFA Institute http://www.cfainstitute.org (formerly the Association for Investment Management and Research or AIMR) provides background about the roles of securities analysts and brokers.

You can find more information on advisor licensing at the state level on state government websites.

To find state securities regulators, go to the North American Securities Administrators Association, Inc. (NASAA) website at http://www.nasaa.org.

To find state insurance regulators, go to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) at http://www.naic.org. The NAIC provides an interactive map of “State Insurance Department Web Sites” at http://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm.

Other organizations and exchanges that have some oversight responsibilities include:

  • Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) (http://www.cboe.com )
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)  (http://www.cftc.gov ) “The mission of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is to protect market users and the public from fraud, manipulation, and abusive practices related to the sale of commodity and financial futures and options, and to foster open, competitive, and financially sound futures and option markets.”
  • Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's (MSRB) (http://www.msrb.org). “The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board was established in 1975 by Congress to develop rules regulating securities firms and banks involved in underwriting, trading, and selling municipal securities- bonds and notes issued by states, cities, and counties or their agencies to help finance public projects.”
  • NASDAQ Stock Market (NASDAQ) (http://www.nasdaq.com )
  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) (http://www.nyse.com )

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