Melding the search results of the two systems the public uses to look up information about financial advisers and broker-dealers will make it easier for investors to investigate their financial professionals, according to an SEC staff report released last week.
This simultaneous search and two other staff-recommended changes to the Investor Adviser Public Disclosure website and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.'s BrokerCheck system must be implemented within 18 months, according to rules laid out in last year's Dodd-Frank Act.
A second change will allow for searches of brokers and advisers based on ZIP code or other location. The third will add educational information, such as definitions and links, to both systems.
The report said a new system that uses the information found in the two databases might be an even better solution but that isn't really feasible given the 18-month deadline, the expense and the questions of who would own and maintain such a system.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has long maintained that investors should use registration information about brokers and advisers — such as professional licensing data, disciplinary and employment history, customer complaints and contact information — before they hire one, the report stated.
The information also can better protect investors from fraud, it said.
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