FINRA Proposes Update to Temper Expungement and Elder Abuse

Friday, October 16, 2015

FINRA’s Board of Governors recently voted to move ahead with two key initiatives for broker-dealers. One initiative would amend codes of arbitration to make it tougher for brokers to erase black marks from their public record. The proposal, which will be submitted to the SEC for approval, would incorporate existing guidance and best practices into the rules. The guidance reminds arbitrators that expungement is “an extraordinary remedy that should be recommended only under appropriate circumstances” and that “customer dispute information should be expunged only when it has no meaningful investor protection or regulatory value.” Ultimately, FINRA is trying to strike the right balance between transparency and eliminating information in a report about a broker that is either unfair or false.

The other initiative is meant to enhance protection for senior investors. The rule would require firms to obtain the name and contact information of a trusted person for the customer's account and allow firms to freeze funds in accounts of investors 65 and older when there is “reasonable belief” of financial exploitation. The proposal does not indicate precisely what constitutes a “reasonable belief” of exploitation.

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