With ads, FINRA hopes BrokerCheck becomes go-to site, like Yelp

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 01, 2015 1:19 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With a new ad campaign, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority hopes its BrokerCheck website will become a customer's first stop, like Yelp for diners or Angie's List for home owners, before they invest with a financial adviser.

The Wall Street watchdog, known as FINRA, launched the campaign Monday with 15-second commercials depicting people making big decisions without doing their homework, in a bid to promote its years-old website that provides free information about brokers' employment history, credentials and customer complaints.

"People immediately go online to check out a new restaurant where they might spend $25 for a meal, but don't think to use BrokerCheck when they're handing over $2,500—or $25,000...to an investment professional to invest," FINRA Chairman and Chief Executive Officers Richard Ketchum said in a statement Monday.

In one ad, which will run over the next five weeks on CNBC, Fox News, ESPN, and other cable channels, a man develops arms like a gorilla after taking medication for hypertension without reading the drug's side effects.

In another, a bride blissfully walks down the aisle until the organist hired for the wedding begins playing the sports anthem for the chant, "Charge!"

The TV shorts will run alongside print and online ads to build broader awareness of BrokerCheck's resources.

The commercial campaign is the second change the self-funded regulator has instituted recently to address the site's usefulness.

On Wednesday, FINRA submitted a rule to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would require member securities brokerages to post a link to BrokerCheck on their websites and brokers' profile pages.

The rule had originally proposed requiring brokerages to link to BrokerCheck from their websites and social media pages. However, FINRA removed the social media provision after firms said there was a general lack of guidance on brokerages' use of social media.

BrokerCheck was established in 1988 in paper form as the Public Disclosure Program. The site uses information from the Central Registration Depository, the securities industry's online database for registration and licensing.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Bernadette Baum)