Careers Career Paths Using the FINRA BrokerCheck Database Share PINTEREST Email Print Hero Images / Getty images Career Paths Finance Careers Technology Careers Sports Careers Sales Project Management Professional Writer Music Careers Media Legal Careers US Military Careers Government Careers Fiction Writing Careers Entertainment Careers Criminology Careers Book Publishing Aviation Animal Careers Advertising Learn More By Mark Kolakowski Mark Kolakowski Mark Kolakowski is a business consultant, freelance writer, and business school lecturer. He has been an investor and market watcher for 40 years. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 06/25/19 BrokerCheck is a FINRA service that allows investors to check the backgrounds of brokers (many, but not all, of which are called financial advisors these days) and brokerage firms. It also contains information on formerly registered brokers; many of these people may still be working in the securities or investment fields, and thus information about them may be of use to investors. The service is free, and data searches may be conducted through a website. Reports on Brokers For brokers who have been registered with FINRA within the last 10 years, including brokers who are not currently active, a BrokerCheck report contains: Summary data on the broker and his or her credentials A list of his or her current registrations, licenses and industry exams passed Registration and employment history: all FINRA-registered securities firms where he or she ever has been registered and also, for the past 10 years, all other work (both inside and outside the securities industry), military service, unemployment, and full-time education Disclosures about customer disputes, disciplinary events and financial matters on the broker's record, whether or not the broker actually was found to be at fault The broker's most recently submitted comments, if any Be aware that not all actions and allegations on a broker's record actually indicate wrongdoing. If the broker ceased being registered with FINRA more than 10 years ago, the only difference in the typical BrokerCheck report concerns the section dealing with disclosures. It includes certain criminal, regulatory, civil judicial, or customer complaint actions against the broker. Events are included in the report if the broker was: Subjected to a final regulatory actionConvicted of (or pled guilty or no contest to) certain crimesPlaced under a civil injunction involving investment-related activitiesFound by a civil court to be in violation of investment-related laws or regulationsNamed as a respondent or defendant in an arbitration action or civil suit alleging that he or she violated sales practices, and which produced an award or civil judgment against him or her FINRA lists each event as reported by securities regulators, the individual broker, and any involved firms. Reports on Brokerage Firms The typical BrokerCheck report on a brokerage firm consists of: An overview of the firm and its backgroundWhen and where the firm was establishedThe people and organizations with controlling shares or influence over the firm's operationsA history of mergers, acquisitions or name changesThe firm's active licenses and registrations, the types of businesses it conducts and other details pertaining to its operationsDisclosures about any arbitration awards, disciplinary events, and financial matters on the firm's record Note that pending or unresolved actions may be included, and the presence of any such actions are not necessarily indicative of wrongdoing. Information Sources The information in BrokerCheck comes from the Central Registration Depository (CRD), which compiles the registration and licensing filed by brokerage firms and brokers. Regulators also supply information to CRD about certain disciplinary actions involving brokers and brokerage firms. Currency of Information Registered brokers and brokerage firms usually must submit updates to CRD within 30 days after he/she/it learns of an event. BrokerCheck reflects the new or revised CRD data immediately. Information normally is not updated for firms that are no longer registered with FINRA, or for brokers who are no longer registered with FINRA. What BrokerCheck Does Not Include Examples are: Judgments and liens originally reported as pending that later were satisfiedBankruptcy proceedings filed more than 10 years ago.Social Security NumbersResidential history informationPhysical description information In general, BrokerCheck does not include any data that never flowed into CRD, nor does it include information that once did, but no longer. FINRA seeks to protect confidential customer information, exclude offensive or defamatory language, and suppress information that raises significant identity theft or privacy concerns. New Disclosure Proposals In 2012, FINRA has been considering increased disclosures in BrokerCheck, such as: Reasons for and comments related to a broker's termination Educational background Other professional designations, such as CFA or CFP More detail about investor complaints against brokers Meanwhile, calls from investor advocates to include the scores obtained on exams such as the Series 7, are being opposed by FINRA, and are highly unpopular among brokers. Experts quoted in The Wall Street Journal ("Keeping Score: Investor Advocates Push for More Broker Disclosure, Including Grades on Exams," May 29, 2012) question the utility of reporting test scores, since they show do not correlate with future investment performance or service quality, the main drivers of client satisfaction.