Checking a Registration or Professional Designation
If you are working with a financial professional, or someone is trying to sell you an investment, be sure to check them out before handing over your hard-earned money.
Most securities firms, stockbrokers, investment advisers, and investment adviser representatives must be registered with the Securities Division in order to conduct business in South Carolina. Make sure your financial professional is properly registered. It is perhaps the most important step you can take to protect yourself and your money from a potential scam. Not all, but most scams involve unregistered entities, people and products.
While a single individual may be registered as a stockbroker, an investment adviser, an insurance agent or a commodities dealer, no one registry will tell you this. Investors must check multiple databases. Fortunately, there are several regulatory websites that allow you to do this.
- BrokerCheck, is FINRA's free online search tool that allows anyone to research the registration status of securities dealers and salesmen. BrokerCheck tells you whether a person or firm is registered as required by law to sell securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds and more). BrokerCheck will provide you with a snapshot of a broker’s employment history, regulatory actions, and investment-related licensing information, arbitration and complaints.
- Investment Adviser Public Disclosure allows you to search for information about an Investment Adviser firm or investment adviser representative. Here you can view current registrations, employment history, and disclosures about certain disciplinary events involving firms and individuals.
- SmartCheck.gov is maintained by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Before working with any person or firm to trade in commodity futures, commodity pools, options, forex, or other derivatives, verify the entity is properly registered with the CFTC.
Since annuities are regulated as insurance products in South Carolina, consumers should check the registration status of their agent with the SC Department of Insurance.
The SEC Action Lookup allows you to search by name for individuals that have been named in SEC court actions or administrative proceedings and had judgments or orders issued against them.
For information about actions taken by the South Carolina Securities Division against investment professional firms or individuals, see the Enforcement section of our website.
Understanding Financial Services Titles & Designations
Financial services professionals may represent that they have professional designations that can be confusing. While some of these titles or designations accurately reflect the person’s expertise, others may be little more than marketing tools designed to convey the impression that the holder has more knowledge or experience than they actually have. FINRA has a page called Understanding Investment Professional Designations that lists each designation complete with a link to the organization that issued the designation. You can use this page to click through to an organization, check to see if the advisor really has the credentials they say they have and learn more about what those credentials mean.
- If a financial planner is telling you they hold the CFP® designation, you can go to Verify Your Planner’s CFP® Designation page to type in an advisor’s name to find out if they hold this designation.
- The SEC Company Filings Search page allows you to search information collected by the SEC by Company or fund name, ticker symbol, Central Index Key (CIK), and more.
- The NASAA Electronic Filing Depository allows you to search and view, free of charge, Form D filings made with state securities regulators.
If you have additional questions about a registration, please give us a call at (803) 734-9916. If you would like to register a complaint with the Securities Division, please see our online complaint form.
Securities Contact Information
Office of the SC Attorney General
P. O. Box 11549
Columbia, SC 29211-1549
For overnight delivery:
Rembert Dennis Building
1000 Assembly Street
Columbia, SC 29201