The SEC recently approved amendments to FINRA Rule 2210 (Communications with the Public) which require broker-dealers to include a readily apparent reference and hyperlink to FINRA BrokerCheck on the initial web page viewed by retail investors, and any other web page that includes a professional profile of one or more registered persons who conduct business  with retail investors. The rule amendments creating this new requirement were effective June 6, 2016.

The standard “readily apparent” will be determined by several factors such as the placement, font size, and font color of the BrokerCheck link. To help broker-dealers comply with this new requirement, FINRA provides tools, resources, and guidelines. The Direct Link Tool that FINRA offers, directly links you to a registered representative’s BrokerCheck profile.the FINRA has offered various color schemes and sizes for broker-dealers to choose from. The various aesthetic options should assist broker-dealers in complying with the “readily apparent” standard.

FINRA also provides the source code to install a BrokerCheck widget directly on your website. The widget is a search box that will allow customers to search an individual’s name and view a detailed report regarding the representative’s employment history, registrations, and disclosures. It is very similar to the BrokerCheck feature on FINRA’s website. A broker-dealer has the option to configure the BrokerCheck widget so that only an individual who works at the broker-dealer can be searched.

This new BrokerCheck link requirement may be burdensome for some broker-dealers that permit registered representatives to maintain their own websites. This is because FINRA would view a website operated by one of your registered representatives as your broker-dealer’s website if it promotes your broker-dealer’s business. If you have multiple registered representatives operating their own websites to promote the business that they conduct on behalf of your broker-dealer, your Compliance Department must make sure each website complies with the BrokerCheck link requirement by June 6, 2016. In addition, FINRA expects you to monitor each website for compliance with this new requirement.

Please review Regulatory Notice 15-50  for additional information about the amendments. And please visit our other posts on Communications with the Pubic.