Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulates broker-dealers and its self-defined mission is to "protect America's investors by making sure the securities industry operates fairly and honestly." There are currently about 4,525 brokerage firms and approximately 631,085 registered securities representatives, so FINRA has its work cut out for it.
FINRA is ubiquitous. According to FINRA's website, it works in every aspect of the industry, "from registering and educating industry participants to examining securities firms; writing rules; enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws; informing and educating the investing public; providing trade reporting and other industry utilities; and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms."
FINRA has about 3,000 employees with offices in Washington, DC, and New York, NY, and 20 regional offices. The website states that in "today's fast-paced and complex global economy, FINRA is a trusted advocate for investors, dedicated to keeping the markets fair and proactively addressing emerging regulatory issues before they harm investors or the markets."
FINRA strives to "educate" investors. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is focused on investor education and has been since its founding in 2003. It has spent over US$60 million on various education projects.
The FINRA emphasis on education is something rather new, however, for an agency that was founded in 1939 and registered with the SEC in response to the 1938 Maloney Act amendments to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Actually, the idea of mandated "self regulation" is probably unconstitutional but that hasn't stopped the NASD (now FINRA) from barreling ahead. Among securities dealers it is known for its support of Wall Street's largest firms and for making life miserable for smaller operations.
It eventually split into two, allowing its regulatory function to become a separate service – also an entirely unconstitutional move. There is no doubt that in a corrupt industry, in which size and money dictate industrial clout, FINRA is an essential element of the status quo. In fact, one could argue it serves no other function but to empower the powerful as those in positions of such power gradually eviscerate and eventually bankrupt the US middle class.
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