DEFINITION of 'Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System (CARDS)'

The Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System (CARDS) is an initiative by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to better oversee investment activity in the U.S. It is still in proposal form, but is expected to roll out in stages beginning in 2015. Through CARDS, the nonprofit securities regulator will regularly collect customer and product information, as well as account activity, from its more than 4,100 member firms. FINRA polices its members and hopes that running analytics on the collected data will enable it to more quickly flag brokerages engaging in sales misconduct.

BREAKING DOWN 'Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System (CARDS)'

The CARDS initiative was proposed in 2013 and is subject to tweaking as FINRA's board must still vote to approve it, before sending it on to the Security and Exchange Commission and out for public comment. Critics within the financial community say CARDS reporting will add significant cost to doing business. Some also worry that it’s a security risk to allow FINRA to access so much client information, though the organization has noted that it will not hold individual client names, addresses, Social Security Numbers or other personally identifiable information.

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