Finra is still agreeing to requests by brokers to hide their customer dispute settlements over 90 percent of the time, despite the self-regulator's promise to reduce the practice, the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association claimed Tuesday.
In a review of 850 investment arbitration cases in the past two years, PIABA found 91.7 percent of the expungement requests were granted last year, up from 89.8 percent in 2013 and 86.5 percent in 2012.
FINRA has failed to live up to its promise that the settlements would not be removed from BrokerCheck unless they have little investor protection value.
“It defies credibility that the expunged information had no meaningful investor protection or regulatory value in 92 percent of the cases filed between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2014, in which a customer’s claims were settled and the brokers later sought expungement relief,” said the group.
The study pointed out Finra said it was trying to reduce expungements when it proposed a rule that went into effect in July 2014 barring brokers from mandating customers agree to their complaints being deleted from BrokerCheck as a condition for receiving compensation. Finra also said it tried to reign in expungements in late 2013 with new guidance and training for arbitrators.
To make more of the settlements available to customers and potential customers, PIABA wants Finra to have the agency’s Office of Hearing Officers impartially review the expungement requests.
PIABA also wants Finra to be required to promptly tell state securities regulators of expungement requests to give the officials a chance to oppose them.