On October 8, 2015, the SEC approved an amendment to FINRA Rule 2210 (Communications with the Public) under which each member firm’s website must include a readily apparent reference and hyperlink to FINRA’s BrokerCheck page.5 The new reference and link must be included on the initial webpage that the member intends to be viewed by retail investors and any other webpage that includes a professional profile of one or more registered persons who conduct
business with retail investors. This new requirement does not apply to a member that does not provide products or services to retail investors, or to a directory or list of registered persons limited to names and contact information.
In a comment response letter, FINRA explained its view of the scope of the amendment in several areas:
A website operated by registered representatives that promotes the member’s business is viewed by FINRA as the website of the member firm, and FINRA expects member firms to supervise and review this type of website for compliance.
For websites of multi-faceted financial institutions, the new requirements would apply only to the affiliated broker- dealer’s main webpage and not to the enterprise level webpage.
The rule applies to a separate retail website of a branch office or branch office personnel, which would be treated as separate websites of the member.
The hyperlink and reference would be required for all webpages where a branch office registered person’s profile information appears, including webpages on the member’s website and webpages on the branch office’s website.
A hyperlink and reference included in a footer would not be “readily apparent.”6
Please note that the rule does not limit the placement of the link to the broker’s homepage for its enterprise. Rather, the rule contemplates placement of the link on each initial webpage that the member intends to be viewed by retail investors. Accordingly, FINRA contemplates the possibility that a broker will have multiple pages requiring BrokerCheck links, for example, where it manages “microsites” relating to different aspects of its business.
In the case of structured note websites, it is possible that FINRA members will need to place the link on a number of webpages. For example, the broker may have specially designed structured product webpages, which are intended to be the investor’s first point of on-line exposure to the broker’s structured products business. Brokers will need to review their relevant webpages to determine which ones are appropriate to insert the relevant links.