The Securities Exchange Commission Office of Investor Education has issued a recent bulletin concerning financial advisors. The SEC and FINRA have been under a great deal of pressure. Both Congress and consumer groups are looking for evildoers. So, the politically easy reaction is to attack financial advisors.
Financial advisors are regulated and their records are kept into primary locations. One is the industry‘s secure reporting system and the other one is open to the public. The one open to the public is Broker Check. It is easily available online to the public. The Broker Check report includes a list of the broker’s registrations, his/her licenses, previous employment, customer disputes, and any disciplinary actions. Any accusations of professional misconduct are readily available online.
The investment advisor public disclosure website has more background information. Information can also be obtained from state regulatory agencies. Most states have their own agency regulating financial advisors and investment vehicles. There are other web sites and online locations to look. Yahoo Finance has information both on current market activities and financial advisors. Forbes magazine, likewise, at Forbes.com. Some security lawyer websites and blogs also have lists of misdeeds. My own website security law website lists alphabetically and defines the myriad of misdeeds wrongful actions and crooked activities of bad stockbrokers.
The SEC maintains regional offices which you can locate online at the SEC website. Offices in Miami and Atlanta have over 150 full-time SEC lawyers who are charging criminally for violations of the securities act.
If you believe you have been the victim of a financial fraud, you can contact the SEC. The SEC is a government agency created by statute. It has both enforcement and regulatory responsibilities. FINRA is not a government agency. It is a quasi-public quasi-governmental agency. It functions as a dispute resolution form. If you contact FINRA, which maintains a readily accessible website, you can find out how to begin an arbitration proceeding against a financial advisor. There was an expedited process for claims under $25,000, which can easily be done without an attorney. You will be assigned one arbitrator who will hear your complaint and make a finding. For man is in excess of $25,000 a three-panel arbitration board is convened for the arbitration.