The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) has issued fewer large fines to financial firms through July of 2013 than it did in the first half of 2012, according to a recent report. The measurement is of sanctions brought by regulators and does not reflect customer complaints.

“The fines pale in comparison to the profits generated by Wall Street,” commented Peter Mougey, an attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who heads the firm’s business litigation department. “Fines are only meaningful deterrents if there is some pain involved rather than simply the cost of doing business.”

Increased numbers of sanctions were expected in the wake of the financial crisis. In the whole of 2012, FINRA had issued over $10.4 million in fines for advertising and has only issued $1.2 million in advertising fines in the first half of 2013. If the trend maintains, the agency will finish the year issuing far fewer fines than it did the year before.

“The mortgage debacle of 2008 is clear evidence that self-regulation has not worked,” Mr. Mougey continued. “Greed will always win unless there is a deterrent and fines of this magnitude are not  what is needed for investors’ interests to be put first.”

Since the end of June, FINRA has issued several multi-million dollar fines but it is unknown whether more such fines will be issued during the year.

Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.