September 4, 2009
I am an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, and my practice areas include the representation of public customers in securities litigation and arbitration.
I believe that all of the information which is disclosed for current FINRA members and associated persons should remain in the public domain indefinitely.
The federal securities laws and regulatory scheme reject the concept of "caveat emptor" and, instead, as a matter of public policy, require full disclosure and a high standard of business ethics in the securities industry. In the words of the Supreme Court, the goal is to substitute a philosophy of full disclosure for the philosophy of caveat emptor. Affiliated Ute Citizens v. United States, 406 U.S. 128, 151 (1972), quoting SEC v. Capital Gains Research Bureau, 375 U.S. 180, 186 (1963). A broker's involvement in misconduct is exactly the type of information for which full and complete disclosure is necessary.
FINRA members and associated persons strongly encourage their clients to place complete faith and trust in them. In return, the investor/client ought to have full, unadulterated disclosure of the broker's background, including any possible misconduct. Purging any information about reportable misconduct after an arbitrary period has passed is contrary to the spirit of the federal securities laws, and does little to encourage investor faith and confidence in the financial industry.