To help guide investors through the key elements of their account statements and trade confirmations, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra) today issued a new investor alert, titled "It Pays to Understand Your Brokerage Account Statements and Trade Confirmations."

The notice, which can be found in the investor alert section on Finra's Web site (, essentially reminds investors to review account statements regularly to keep on top of their holdings. By doing so, the investors will be able to spot errors or bring to light misconduct by a firm or brokerage, such as unauthorized trading or overcharging for transactions.

"Investors whose portfolios have taken a hit might not be keen to open their account statements, but they should review their statements carefully," said Gerri Walsh, vice president of Investor Education for Finra, the independent regulator of securities firms doing business in the U.S. "Investors should then immediately call the firm that issued the statement to ask about any fee they don't understand or transaction they didn't authorize."

Brokerage firms typically provide customers with quarterly account statements and a written notification of trade confirmations. Firna's alert lists a number of red flags investors must watch out for to pinpoint and avoid problems.

Investors who find inaccuracies or discrepancies in their statements should contact their brokerage or firm, Finra said. If the problem is not resolved, they can file a complaint using Finra's online complaint center.

-Jim McConville