FINRA is the largest independent regulator of securities firms in the United States that protects investors from fraud, punishes unethical industry behaviors and helps to resolve disputes between investors, brokers and securities firms. FINRA’s mission is to protect investors and to ensure market integrity. As of December 31st, 2013, they oversaw nearly 4,100 brokerage firms and 636,000 registered securities representatives. “Risk” and “Technology” were two important words that was emphasized throughout the FINRA’s 2013 Annual report. The two words are interrelated as companies must invest in more advanced technology to manage risk. The market surveillance program ensures that unethical trading and other abuses are detected. In fact, FINRA is changing its way to regulate in the following ways in 2013:
• Examinations of firms is data-driven, meaning FINRA collects large amount of electronic information from companies before actual examinations take place.
• FIRNA has invested nearly a quarter of annual spend on building and acquiring new technology (including cloud computing) to process data and perform market surveillance programs.
• FINRA’s board approved a plan to develop an automated system to collect account information that firms maintain as part of their books and records, such as account holdings and transactions.
• FINRA released an enhanced version of BrokerCheck which will allow investors to more easily check the background of a potential investment adviser
In summary, FINRA is embracing big data and investing in advanced technology to better manage and analyze information in an increasingly complex economy. They are also relying on technology to ensure companies and individuals in the securities industry are complying with regulations.
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