Failed deals involving private placements, non-traded REITs and high-risk investments like inverse and leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs) shed new light on why investors need to be as informed as possible about their financial investments. And the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck database is a good place to start.
BrokerCheck is designed to help investors quickly and easily search the professional backgrounds of brokers and investment firms. This month – partly in response to address recommendations made in a January 2011 study by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – FINRA announced the addition of several new features to its BrokerCheck system.
With the latest improvements, investors and others now have:
- Access to more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm. In addition, new Help icons are designed to clarify commonly referenced terms throughout the system and within BrokerCheck reports.
- Centralized access to licensing and registration information on current and former brokers and brokerage firms, and investment adviser representatives and investment adviser firms.
- The ability to search for and locate a financial services professional based on main office and branch locations, as well as the ability to conduct ZIP code radius searches in increments of five, 15 or 25 miles.
In 2011, individuals used BrokerCheck to conduct 14.2 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck here.