FINRA Proposed Amendment to Communication with Public Rule to Incorporate Link to BrokerCheck.

June 13, 2014

FINRA has requested comments on proposed FINRA Rule 2210(d)(8), which would require a firm to have a hyperlink to BrokerCheck on any website that is available to retail investors, and in any online retail communications that include the professional profile or contact information of an associated person. The purpose of the proposed rule change is to increase investor awareness and use of BrokerCheck.

FINRA initially filed a proposal with the SEC in January 2013 seeking to amend FINRA Rule 2267 on Investor Education and Protection. The aim of the initial proposal was to require firms to include a visible link to BrokerCheck on any website, social media page or other form of internet presence. The most common concerns with the proposed rule were challenges with implementing the rule with respect to social media pages, and the use of a deep link to BrokerCheck summary reports specific to each member firm. In light of these concerns, FINRA has instead chosen to incorporate the proposed BrokerCheck requirement into FINRA Rule 2210 on Communications with the Public. If adopted, the rule would require a member firm to have a readily apparent hyperlink to BrokerCheck on any website of the firm that is available to retail investors, and in firms’ online retail communications that include a professional profile of, or contact information for, an associated person. Thus, the revised proposal responds to previous concerns and clarifies that a hyperlink to BrokerCheck need only be included on websites of the firm that are available to retail investors, rather than on all of its social media pages. Furthermore, the revised proposal eliminates the requirement for a deep link to a firm’s or associated person’s BrokerCheck report summary page.

Exempt from the requirements of the proposed rule are electronic mail or text messages, a retail communication that is posted on an online interactive electronic forum, a member firm that does not provide products or services to retail investors or a director or list of associated persons limited to names and contact information.

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FINRA, Regulations/Rules