The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., known as FINRA, is the largest independent regulator for securities firms doing business in the U.S. FINRA is responsible for registering and educating industry participants; examining securities firms; writing and enforcing rules; informing and educating the public; providing trade reporting and other industry utilities; and administering a dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. FINRA operates from Washington, D.C., and New York City, with 15 district offices around the U.S. It oversees 4,900 brokerage firms, 172,000 branch offices and 660,000 registered securities representatives.
A self-regulatory organization, FINRA is funded by the brokerage business and overseen by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. FINRA was created in 2007 through the consolidation of the National Association of Securities Dealers and the regulation, enforcement and arbitration functions of the New York Stock Exchange.
FINRA recently saw some changes at the top. Former NYSE Regulation CEO Richard G. Ketchum was appointed FINRA's chief executive, replacing Mary L. Schapiro, who resigned to head up the SEC. Ketchum had been chairman of FINRA's board of governors. He is pushing a move to extend his agency's authority to include investment advisers.