April 17, 2009
My practice is primarily devoted to the representation of public investors in their disputes with the securities industry.
I believe that the proposed rule changes here are long overdue and a welcome change that would materially add to FINRAs duty of protecting investors. By requiring brokerage firms to report, as a customer complaint, allegations of sales practice violations made in arbitration claims and civil lawsuits against registered persons who are not named as parties in those proceedings, the rule change would:
1. Benefit regulators, investors and the industry who would otherwise have no idea if a broker is involved in a customer complaint due to the fact that arbitration proceedings are generally private and not publicized
2. Close the reporting loophole that currently exists due to the fact that many customers choose not to name the registered person as the sole respondent (or even a party) due to a variety of strategic legal decisions that are between the customer and his or her attorney
3. Benefit the fairness of arbitrator selection as non-public (industry) arbitrators would be required to update their arbitrator disclosure forms to indicate if they are involved in a customer complaint. Customers have the right to know the background of those who are adjudicating their cases, and I can think of nothing more important than the disclosure of customer complaints of an arbitrator.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important and necessary rule change. On behalf of my clients, I am optimistic that the rule will be passed.