Deleting Misconduct: The Expungement of BrokerCheck Records

77 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2018 Last revised: 18 Mar 2020

Date Written: August 20, 2019


We examine a controversial process, known as expungement, which allows brokers to remove evidence of financial misconduct from public records. From 2007-2016, we identify 6,660 expungement requests, suggesting that brokers attempt to expunge 12% of the allegations of misconduct reported by customers and firms. When these requests are adjudicated on the merits, arbitrators approve expungement 84% of the time. We show that expungements significantly predict future misconduct; brokers with prior expungements are 3.3 times as likely to engage in new misconduct as the average broker. Further, using an instrumental variable based on the random assignment of arbitrators, we present evidence that brokers who receive expungement are more likely to reoffend than brokers denied expungement. We also show that successful expungements improve long-term career prospects.

Keywords: FINRA Rule 2080, expungement, broker misconduct, recidivism, BrokerCheck

JEL Classification: D18, K20, K22, K23, G24, G28, M14

Suggested Citation

Honigsberg, Colleen and Jacob, Matthew, Deleting Misconduct: The Expungement of BrokerCheck Records (August 20, 2019). Journal of Financial Economics (JFE), Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Colleen Honigsberg (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Matthew Jacob

Harvard University ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

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