FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and how this Self-Regulatory Organization affects us are less well known aspects of being a public company. Perhaps you have seen a “FINRA list”, the list of people who have bought and sold your stock in the period surrounding a major change in your stock price. This is one of the tools that regulators use to search for insider trading. Or maybe you have read about how FINRA’s fines for broker/dealers are on a pace to set new records.
One way or another, we should all know about FINRA. You can find out a lot about them on their web page. Here is how FINRA describes their mission in the “About” section of their web page:
“FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation of the securities industry.
FINRA is not part of the government. We’re an independent, not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect America’s investors by making sure the securities industry operates fairly and honestly.
We do this by:
writing and enforcing rules governing the activities of 3,895 securities firms with 641,761 brokers;
examining firms for compliance with those rules;
fostering market transparency; and
Our independent regulation plays a critical role in America’s financial system—by enforcing high ethical standards, bringing the necessary resources and expertise to regulation and enhancing investor safeguards and market integrity—all at no cost to taxpayers.
FINRA’s role does go beyond broker/dealers. They also say:
FINRA uses technology powerful enough to look across markets and detect potential abuses. Using a variety of data gathering techniques, we work to detect insider trading and any strategies firms or individuals use to gain an unfair advantage.
In fact, FINRA processes, on average, 50 billion—and up to 75 billion—transactions every day to build a complete, holistic picture of market trading in the United States.
We also work behind the scenes to detect and fight fraud. In addition to our own enforcement actions, in 2015, we referred more than 800 fraud and insider trading cases to the SEC and other agencies. When we share information with other regulators, it leads to important actions that prevent further harm to investors.”
With this level of referrals, they are clearly a proactive watchdog of the markets! We all need to know who they are and what they do.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.