When getting started in the world of investing and saving, most people will find financial professionals based on the recommendation of family and friends. After all, if your parents have used the same advisor for years, most likely he is good at his job. Somewhere along the line, that professional will retire and you will be left trying to find someone else to manage your portfolio. Regardless of who you chose, or how you choose them, you want to make sure they are indeed a professional, and have an unblemished record. To do so, FINRA provides a way to research the advisor of your choice, to make sure they are competent, and actually licensed to sell securities in your state. Using the FINRA Broker Check is simple, and an easy way to complete your due diligence.
If you know your broker’s CRD# you can search by that, otherwise you can search by name. For those who have an advisor or broker with a common last name, they might need to enter more details to get the list shorter. Clicking search will bring up everyone that is registered, or has been registered, find the person in question on the list and click the word “Broker” underneath his or her name to view the summary report.
After you have selected your broker, you can see the basic information for that individual. It will show whether or not they are current on their license, and which company they are licensed to work for. It shows if they have any disciplinary action and how many licenses they have and how in many states they are legally allowed to conduct business.
On the summary page there is a large blue button that says “Get Detailed Report.” This will get you a PDF of all the information available for that broker. It will list out which licenses he or she holds, the dates acquired, the states he or she is licensed to work in, any disciplinary action they have received, and even the work history for that individual. You can do a full review of your broker, including finding out where they used to work, to see if their past ideals are in line with yours.
Finding the right financial professional is important. Nobody wants to deal with someone who is dishonest, especially when their savings are involved. The only problem with the broker check is that nothing will show up until after a complaint has been issued (if you want to see a negative report take a look at Bernie Madoff). Regardless, you can still do your research and find out if the broker you have been recommended to is even registered to deal in securities, if he or she has any past history you do not like, and even how long they have been in the business.