The SEC has approved a proposal to amend FINRA Rule 2210, which governs “Communications with the Public.” The new rule will require Internet hyperlinks to FINRA’s BrokerCheck database on websites maintained by broker-dealers, their branch offices, and their registered representatives. BrokerCheck is a searchable database that contains the employment, registration, and disciplinary histories of all registered persons. The link must appear on a home page and any other webpage that includes a profile of a registered person, and it must be a “readily apparent reference” for retail investors (in other words, it cannot be buried in a footer or some other remote part of a webpage).
The link is not required to connect directly to an individual’s BrokerCheck report; rather, it will direct viewers to the BrokerCheck home page on the FINRA website. FINRA considers an individual’s website to be a firm website, and therefore it expects member firms to supervise their representatives’ websites for compliance with the rule. This would include the websites of a branch office, an independent contractor representative, or an investment advisory firm that is maintained by the registered representative. The rule does not apply to third-party websites that contain professional profiles (such as LinkedIn). Because the new rule is aimed at communications with the public, it also does not apply to member firms that do not provide products or services to retail investors. An effective date for the new rule has not yet been announced.