The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA's mission is to protect investors by making sure the United States securities industry operates fairly and honestly. FINRA oversees about 4,250 brokerage firms, about 162,155 branch offices and approximately 629,525 registered securities representatives.
FINRA has approximately 3,400 employees and operates from Washington, D.C., and New York, NY, with 20 regional offices around the country.
FINRA offers regulatory oversight over all securities firms that do business with the public, plus those offering professional training, testing, and licensing of registered persons, arbitration and mediation, market regulation by contract for the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc., the American Stock Exchange LLC, and the International Securities Exchange, LLC; and industry utilities, such as Trade Reporting Facilities and other over-the-counter operations.
FINRA was formed by a consolidation of the member regulation, enforcement, and arbitration operations of the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Regulation, Inc., and NASD. The merger was approved by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on July 26, 2007.
The NASD was founded in 1939 and was registered with the SEC in response to the 1938 Maloney Act amendments to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which allowed it to supervise the conduct of its members subject to the oversight of the SEC. In 1971, NASD launched a new computerized stock trading system called the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) stock market. The NYSE and AMEX stock exchanges merged in 1998. Two years later, the NASDAQ underwent a major recapitalization and became an independent entity from NASD. In July 2007, the SEC approved the formation of a new SRO to be a successor to NASD. The NASD and the member regulation, enforcement and arbitration functions of the New York Stock Exchange were then consolidated into the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
The FINRA By-Laws provide that the FINRA Board must consist of the chief executive officer of FINRA, the chief executive officer of NYSE Regulation, eleven public governors, and ten industry governors, including a floor member governor, an independent dealer/insurance affiliate governor, an investment company affiliate governor, three small firm governors, one mid-size firm governor, and three large-firm governors. The small firm governors, mid-size firm governor, and large-firm governors are elected by members of FINRA according to their classification as a small firm, mid-size firm, or large firm.
FINRA regulates trading in equities, corporate bonds, securities futures, and options. All firms dealing in securities that are not regulated by another SRO, such as by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), are required to be member firms of the FINRA.