According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, the process for applying for membership as a broker-dealer is governed by the NASD Rule 1010 Series. Applicants for membership must file a New Member Application, or Form NMA, and reserve a name by filing FINRA's Broker-Dealer Firm Name Reservation Request.
The process for registering with FINRA takes place online and on paper, explains the FINRA website. Applicants file Form NMA through the FINRA Firm Gateway and file Notarized Form BD, the Super Account Administrator Entitlement Form and the Member Firm Email Notification Contact Form in hard copy. Application fees are paid by electronic funds transfer and kept in a FINRA Central Registration Depository account. The application fee varies based on the size of the firm applicant. As of 2015, it ranges from $7,500 to $55,000, plus general or branch registration fees, which are usually a few hundred dollars.
Reserving a name with FINRA is an essential part of the registration process, states FINRA. Legislation and FINRA bylaws restrict certain broker-dealer names, such as those that might cause confusion with other registered firms or those that imply association with the government or regulatory authorities. These include names with words such as "deposit insurance" or "federal" or "reserve." Firms that wish to have a restricted word or phrase in their name have to include an explanation for why they should be allowed to use the word. FINRA has broad latitude to reject names it determines could confuse an investor.