Brokers' disciplinary records will be available online to the public even if they leave the securities industry, a regulatory organization said Tuesday.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the brokerage industry's self-policing body, said it has won approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to expand its free BrokerCheck Service and make the disciplinary records available permanently. Until now, a broker's record stopped being available two years after he or she left the securities industry.
Brokers that left the industry could become financial planners or work in other related fields in which their previous record could be relevant to investors, the SEC said in approving the expansion.
Records for former brokers will be available on BrokerCheck beginning Nov. 30. They will include sanctions such as fines and suspensions or permanent bars imposed by the SEC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, federal and state regulatory agencies, and FINRA.
The employment, qualifications and disciplinary history of more than 650,000 brokers under FINRA's jurisdiction are available. FINRA estimates there are more than 15,000 individuals who have left the securities industry after being the subject of a final regulatory action and whose disciplinary history is not currently available on BrokerCheck.
People used BrokerCheck in 2008 to make 11.6 million reviews of broker or firm records, FINRA said. Investors can access BrokerCheck at http://www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999.