FINRA's BrokerCheck service enables the public to examine the employment, qualifications and disciplinary history of more than 650,000 brokers under FINRA's jurisdiction. Currently, a broker's record is removed from the public record two years after he or she leaves the securities industry.

But recent shenanigans in the financial services industry that involved defrocked brokers with no traceable record of past misdeeds prompted the agency to seek approval to make records of regulatory actions against brokers permanently available, even if they're no longer part of the securities industry. FINRA estimates that more than 15,000 people who left the industry after violating regulations no longer have records available on BrokerCheck. 

"Individuals previously barred by FINRA and other securities regulators have surfaced in a number of recent frauds responsible for millions lost by unsuspecting investors," FINRA chief executive Richard Ketchum said in a statement. "Investors should be able to check if the financial professional they're dealing with has been the subject of a disciplinary action by regulators."

FINRA filed its rule proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission this spring and is soliciting public comment for an undetermined time period. "It could be for two months or five years," says a FINRA spokesman. "It all depends on the issue."

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