Check credentials of financial planners, brokers, and brokerage firms with these tips and you’ll ensure the financial safety of your client, as well as protect yourself. Anyone who sells mutual funds, stocks, bonds or securities is regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Check Credentials With BrokerCheck
BrokerCheck, a free tool provided by FINRA, can tell you:
- if a broker or brokerage firm is registered
- what has been disclosed to regulators
- about a broker’s experience
- about what a broker or brokerage firm is able to do
This database of information provides a financial planner’s employment history, licenses, and any complaints, violations or judgments. BrokerCheck generates a report of information, including a financial planner’s Central Registry Depository (CRD) number, the name of the firm for which they work and that firm’s CRD number.
If the financial planner sells annuities, insurance or other state regulated financial products, she is regulated by the state where the product is sold.
Check Credentials in Florida
Consumers can verify a financial planner’s state licenses through their state’s licensing authority. In Florida, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation licenses individuals who sell insurance and annuities. To check if a financial planner is licensed in Florida, consumers can use Florida’s Licensee Search tool.
To request information about any complaints or disciplinary actions involving the financial planner, you will need to contact the state’s financial regulatory agency and provide the financial planner’s state license and CRD numbers. Many states have the results of recent regulatory actions available online. In Florida, consumers can review disciplinary orders online.
NOTE: While most financial planners hold both state and federal licenses, not all do. When verifying a financial planner’s credentials make sure to check both FINRA and the state’s licensing agency.
Financial Professional Designations
Visit FINRA’s Professional Designations page for a list of financial professional designations. Consumers can use this tool to determine what a designation means, how difficult it was to obtain, and if there is a way to verify whether a financial planner actually holds the designation.
Many states and FINRA realize seniors are particularly vulnerable to predatory financial planners. FINRA has a special hotline available to seniors. If seniors have questions about their investments or their broker, they can contact FINRA’s senior helpline at (844) 574-3577.