FINRA Investor Study

Recently, FINRA published a report regarding its investor survey (FINRA Investors in the US 2016).  The report summarizes findings from an online survey addressing investor relationships with broker-dealers and advisers, investor understanding of fees charged for investment services and investor literacy.  The survey finds that a very small percentage of investors own “complex securities,” such as REITs, options and structured notes, which have been a focus of regulatory attention.  Most investors own principally individual stocks and mutual funds.  More than half of those investors surveyed rely on the services of a broker or other professional adviser for some of their investment decisions, with the percentage being somewhat higher for investors aged 55 and higher.  Approximately 16% of those surveyed use robo-advisers.  In making investment decisions, 49% expressed a preference for paper deliver of documents.  An overwhelming percentage of investors (68%) rely on information from the company in which they are investing in order to make their investment decisions.  The investor literacy component of the survey questions revealed that many investors do not have a complete understanding of concepts like short selling and buying stocks on margin, which suggests that broker-dealers and investment advisers have continued work ahead of them in terms of investor education.


FINRA Enhanced Pricing Disclosure Rule

In November 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved FINRA’s proposed rules amending Rule 2232, which will require FINRA members to provide additional pricing information on retail customer confirmations for non-municipal fixed income transactions.  The additional requirements have proven quite controversial and over the years FINRA had proposed and re-proposed various similar amendments. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, or MSRB, has adopted corresponding rule amendments.

The amended rule requires that if a FINRA member trades as principal with a non-institutional customer in a corporate debt or agent debt security, the member would, subject to certain exceptions, be required to disclose the member’s mark-up or mark-down from the prevailing market price for the security on the customer confirmation. Rule 10b-10 under the Exchange Act already requires that FINRA members provide customers with limited pricing information (e.g., transaction cost information) in connection with transactions in equity securities where  the member acts as principal; however, no such requirement had existed for transactions in fixed income securities.


The disclosure requirements would apply where:

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