September 4, 2009
Dear Ms. Murphy:
I am an attorney whose practice emphasizes the representation of investors in disputes with brokers and financial advisors. I have read the comment letter submitted today by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, and I join in the substance of the comments therein.
I believe FINRA's rationale for deleting this highly relevant information after just two years is illogical. Often, the brokers who have left the industry have done so because they were fired or asked to resign due to misconduct. Yet, if a client of that broker decides two years later to file an arbitration claim against the broker or his firm, this information will have been purged from BrokerCheck.
What if the purged information would have assisted the investor's attorney in learning that the broker should have been under heightened supervision by his firm? How else will the wronged investor get this information? Why is FINRA complicit in hiding this information?
The bottom line is that FINRA is supposed to be protecting investors first, not the former registered representatives of its members. This information should be made available indefinitely.
I understand that the rule change is actually an expansion of the information kept beyond two years, so I recognize that the proposal is a step in the right direction. Still, I see this as an opportunity for FINRA to reverse course and do the right thing on the BrokerCheck system. FINRA's recent radio ads have touted FINRA's role as a protector of investors--here's an opportunity for FINRA to go beyond mere words.
Scott R. Shewan