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April 18, 2014

Wall Street regulator to consider mandating broker background checks

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s self-funded regulator said on Wednesday it will consider proposing mandatory background checks for brokers after critics pointed to gaps in disclosures by some with checkered histories.

The announcement by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) comes at a time when the regulator is facing heightened scrutiny from legal groups and the media over the quality of its online disclosure system.

FINRA’s BrokerCheck service is a free tool meant to help investors carefully choose a broker.

The database contains information about each registered broker’s employment history. It also gives details about legal troubles such as whether a broker is facing any criminal or civil investigations into potential misconduct.

Last month, the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association released a critical analysis which found that BrokerCheck does not provide as much disclosure as some state regulators about employees with prior legal troubles.

The association’s report came out about the same time that the Wall Street Journal raised deeper concerns. The newspaper revealed that the records of more than 1,600 stockbrokers failed to disclose critical information about bankruptcy, criminal charges and other red flags.

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Read full Reuters article here.

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