SEC redesigns adviser website to help investors research brokers

The Securities and Exchange Commission is helping investors do their due diligence on advisers with the rollout of a redesigned public disclosure website that features easier background checks via smartphones and other devices.

The most prominent change for the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure search site is more convenient access to the latest Form ADV, as well as a sleeker look and user experience, said Owen Donley, chief counsel of the office of investor education and advocacy. The content has not changed.

“We wanted to make it easier,” Mr. Donley said. “One of our key messages is doing background checks and making sure you’re dealing with a financial professional.”

There were averages of two million searches for advisory businesses and more than five million searches for individual advisers on the IAPD site per month, according to an SEC spokeswoman.

The website is now mobile-friendly for smartphones and tablets, which Mr. Donley said will be helpful for the scores of people who prefer working on the smaller screens. A 2013 report by Google on mobile use found 67% of smartphone users access the Internet every day on their devices, and most never leave home without it.

The SEC Investor’s page also prominently features the search site on itshome page.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has the same goal. Last summer, the self-regulator launched an ad campaign for BrokerCheck, its own database for employment and disciplinary history of brokers. In October, the SEC approved a rule requiring brokerages to include a link to BrokerCheck on their home pages and broker profiles.

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