>A little investigation can save you a huge financial headache. In light of all the news in the financial world, today’s subject is FINRA . FINRA stands for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and they are the largest non governmental regulator of securities firms in the US. They have the ability to impose fines and sanctions to firms and individuals, so even though they are not a government body, they are the law enforcers. Whether you are seeking education as someone who works in the industry, or protection as an investor, this is the place to start. It is the financial equivalent of the Consumer Reports, but with legal teeth.

If we all educate ourselves so that we understand some basics about our own money, we are less susceptible to brokers who promise to deliver all we wish if we grant them access to our cash; but would you buy a car from a dealer who promises you the perfect car sight unseen, if you just sign the contract? Do some homework on your risk tolerance, long term goals (college fund? retirement fund?), and your brokerage house (there were so many compliants and judgments against Merrill Lynch that their demise was of no surprise to anyone who checked FINRA reports). There is information on how to choose your investment professional, how to choose your investment types, how to report a problem with your broker, and compliance information.

Their site offers everything from alerts on frauds and scams, to a broker check which shows current and past cases regarding individuals and brokerage houses. There are also explainations of SIPC protection, (a brokerage version of FDIC type of safety net), how to safeguard your identity from theft, and calculators for savings and loans amounts.

If you have investments, make sure they are building you a nest egg, not just building your broker’s nest egg.