WASHINGTON – FINRA and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) join securities regulators and investor advocates around the globe to raise awareness about the importance of investor education and protection in recognition of World Investor Week 2020, a global weeklong campaign held Oct. 5-11, which will be celebrated throughout the entire month of October due to the ongoing pandemic.
“As investors face market volatility and economic uncertainty due to COVID-19, this is the perfect time to highlight our collaborative efforts with our federal and state regulatory partners to protect and educate investors from COVID-related scams,” said Gerri Walsh, FINRA’s Senior Vice President of Investor Protection and President of the FINRA Foundation. “We believe an essential component of investor protection is education. Through our research and resources, we can help investors make wise financial decisions and provide them with the necessary tools and information to guard against fraud and bad practices.”
To promote these key messages, FINRA, the FINRA Foundation and the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) issued a joint investor bulletin with the CFTC, the National Futures Association (NFA), and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).
The bulletin includes the following tips:
- Invest for the Long-Term and Plan for Life’s Unexpected Challenges: Because every investor is different, it’s important to identify your unique financial goals and assess how much you need to invest to achieve those goals. Having emergency savings can help carry you through difficult economic times. While no one can control pandemics, shifts in government policies, crises in foreign countries, changes in economic data, and other drivers of market fluctuations, you can take steps to mitigate their impact on your investment portfolio by adopting a risk-appropriate, diversified investment plan.
- Beware of Scams Relating to COVID-19: Fraudsters often use the latest news developments to lure investors into scams. Be cautious of claims that a company’s products or services can help stop the coronavirus, especially claims that involve microcap stocks. And be wary of offers introduced on social media, individuals who communicate only through encrypted messaging apps, accounts requiring you to use Bitcoin or other digital assets, and trading websites operated by companies outside the United States.
- Check Out Your Investment Professional: Unlicensed, unregistered persons commit much of the investment fraud in the United States and Canada. If you decide to work with an investment professional, always confirm that they are licensed and registered. Use Investor.gov or FINRA’s BrokerCheck, or contact your state or provincial securities regulator. You can also check the registration status and disciplinary backgrounds of futures, options, and foreign exchange firms, professionals, and trading platforms using the National Futures Association BASIC database.
- Ask Questions: Determining which investment products best meet your financial objectives and identifying a financial professional who sells those products (if you choose to work with one) is very important. The article gives investors lists of questions to ask about both products and professionals.
In addition, the FINRA Foundation and NORC will mark World Investor Week by releasing new research that explores the attitudes and behaviors of Americans before the pandemic and now. FINRA and the FINRA Foundation will also participate in a Twitter chat with the SEC and partners using the hashtag #WIWchat, as well as highlight key tools and resources—such as FINRA’s free Smart Investing Courses, mini e-learning courses that help build essential investment knowledge and skills.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA’s BrokerCheck or by calling (800) 289-9999. Investors can also call FINRA’s Securities Helpline for Seniors at (844) 57-HELPS for assistance with concerns or questions about their brokerage accounts and investments.
World Investor Week is sponsored by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and has a dedicated campaign website, www.worldinvestorweek.org. The site provides details on the various participating authorities and important international organizations supporting the initiative.
About the FINRA Investor Education Foundation
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools to make sound financial decisions throughout life. For more information about FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit www.finrafoundation.org.
FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry—brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the SEC, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit www.finra.org.