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FINRA Now Requiring BrokerCheck Links on Websites

By Ray Harmon • September 14, 2016 • 0 Comments
Broker-dealers and registered representatives must link to FINRA’s BrokerCheck website on their home pages and any pages on their websites featuring profiles of representatives who work with retail investors. This requirement came into effect after the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a change to FINRA Rule 2210 in June.

In Regulatory Notice 15-50, FINRA lays out the amendment to FINRA Rule 2210 (Communications with the Public), stating that “the rule change will help increase investor awareness and make it easier for investors to find BrokerCheck.” This change will, no doubt, make those member firms and registered reps with complaints previously filed against them uneasy — because complaints remain on BrokerCheck for 10 years, regardless of whether they were dubious or ultimately were settled.

The rule specifically requires that BrokerCheck links be “readily apparent” on the main website of a registered member intended to be viewed by a retail investor. It leaves the “reasonable” determination of what constitutes a “readily apparent reference and hyperlink” to member firms and registered reps, though with some guidance on link placement, font size and font color. Exceptions to the hyperlink requirement include:

  • member firms that do not provide products or services to retail investors; and

  • websites that function merely as directories of registered reps and only show names and contact information.

Perhaps as a warning, FINRA notes that “at this time” the rule does not require BrokerCheck links on third-party websites, including social media sites like Twitter or LinkedIn, or on emails or text messages sent by firms or registered reps to retail investors.

Ray Harmon, Esq. is government affairs counsel to NTSA.

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