The mission of the National Directory of U.S. Registered Securities Representatives and Advisors, Ltd. is two-fold: to provide registered securities professionals with the new resources and technology they need to succeed in a rapidly-changing and regulated environment, and to provide the public with a centralized platform where they can write and read reviews of securities professionals so that the experiences of others can be taken into consideration when choosing a professional. The National Directory of U.S. Registered Securities Representatives and Advisors, Ltd. which owns and operates advisor-check.org is not affiliated with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or any government agency.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, generally referred to as FINRA, administers the online application and filing system for the registration of individual U.S. Registered Securities Representatives and Advisors. FINRA, the acronym and registered trademark for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is a private entity that acts as a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for the securities industry. Before FINRA, there were a number of similar private regulatory organizations including the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the merger of the previous self-regulatory organizations into FINRA in July of 2007. FINRA is appointed by the SEC to oversee broker-dealer regulation but the SEC still holds the ultimate regulatory authority.
A Registered Representative (RR), often referred to as a stockbroker, an account executive, "rep" or "broker", is an individual who is "licensed" to sell securities in the United States. To become a registered representative, he or she must be sponsored by a broker/dealer firm and must pass the Series 7 examination (known as the General Securities Representative Exam) which is administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, as explained previously. Some state laws and broker/dealer policies also require individuals who wish to be registered representative to pass the Series 63 examination known as the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam.
A registered representative is authorized to sell a large array of securities such as stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, limited partnership programs and variable annuities because they passed the Series 7 exam. There are many examinations administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority that qualify individuals or limit their authority at various levels. For example, the more narrowly licensed "financial services representative" designation is someone who is licensed by passing the Series 6 securities exam, which limits the "rep" to sell only mutual funds and variable annuity contracts. Registered representatives who sell variable insurance products such as variable annuities or variable universal life insurance policies must also obtain the appropriate state insurance department license(s) where they carry on business.
A Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is an individual or firm that receives compensation for giving advice on investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or exchange traded funds. RIAs generally are paid a percentage of the value of the assets they manage for clients, an hourly fee, fixed fee, or a commission on the securities they sell (if the advisor is also a broker-dealer). Agents of the RIA who are charged with providing investment advice are called an Investment Adviser Representative (IAR). These IARs must generally complete the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination known as the Series 65 exam, or by meeting the exam waiver requirement by holding one or more of the following pre-qualifying designations: Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Consultant, Personal Financial Specialist, Chartered Financial Analyst, or Chartered Investment Counselor.
Unlike registered representatives, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority does not "regulate" Investment Advisors, which are currently regulated directly by the SEC and relevant state agencies. However, as mentioned previously, "registration" of both Registered Representatives and Investment Advisors is administered by them.
All U.S. Securities Representatives and Advisors found in the National Directory of U.S. Registered Securities Representatives and Advisors are provided a unique CRD number. CRD stands for the Central Registration Depository, which is the database that contain the registration records of broker-dealers, securities representatives and advisors. The National Directory of U.S. Registered Securities Representatives and Advisors, Ltd. which owns and operates advisor-check.org is not affiliated with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or any government agency. This website is not authoritative and should not be used to verify the license status of a securities professional. To verify the current status of a securities professional, please go to www.brokercheck.com.