(Dow Jones) Brokerages can expect to face greater scrutiny by the senior staff of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority because of the regulator's changes to its examination program, Finra's chief said Tuesday.

Brokerages should expect to have dialogues "within the next couple of years" in which Finra will request "huge amounts" of information in advance of risk-based examinations, according to Richard Ketchum, Finra's chairman and chief executive.

"More of our exam program should be operating like market surveillance," he said. The regulator will increasingly identify areas of concern in advance that they want to pursue at specific firms when they ultimately send examiners to brokerage offices, he said.

Reviewing more information prior to visits will allow for a greater focus by Finra's "most senior people, rather than simply the examination staff itself," said Ketchum, who made the comments at a seminar for broker-dealer chief compliance officers sponsored by Finra and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The examinations will focus on risks to investors that are prevalent throughout the entire industry, he said.

"You should see our examiners for less time, with more of the focus before we walk in the door, and really addressing areas of risk," Ketchum said.

"Like the SEC, we are continually rethinking our risk-based approach to our exam program," he said. "We need to focus resources to firms where controls aren't as strong as they can be," he said.

A Finra official said in January that the regulator also plans to visit more brokerage firm branch offices during 2011, while relying on an increased amount of electronic data to examine main offices.

Ketchum urged brokerages to rethink their product controls and improve their advisers' understanding in a range of products, including "the level of support that you can provide them and the level of control you build around them."

One of the securities industry's greatest challenges, he said, is "getting ahead of products that become problems on an ongoing basis."

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