The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a Self-Regulatory Organization, the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA's mission is to protect investors by making sure the United States securities industry operates fairly and honestly. All told, FINRA oversees about 4,250 brokerage firms, about 162,155 branch offices and approximately 629,525 registered securities representatives.
As a regulatory body, FINRA acts as the licensor for companies looking to enter the securities markets, as well as the legislator of the functions of those admitted bodies. It also has the authority granted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to discipline non-compliant members. FINRA was founded in July 2007 as a consolidation of the National Association of Securities Dealers Inc. (NASD) and the regulatory functions of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).