February 8, 2013
I am presenting commentary with reference to SR-FINRA-2013-003. I am an investor advocate who has been a PIABA member since 2003. The views expressed herein are solely my own.
I commend FINRA on filing proposed revision 2013-003. It is a toe in the water, however, and a more complete immersion will be necessary to promote investor protection and market integrity.
(a) Mutual fund and hedge fund employees must never be classified as "public" arbitrators. They are free to serve as "non-public" arbitrators.
(b) With reference to those potential "public" arbitrators who have spent many years affiliated with member-firms or other securities industry organizations, the 2-year look back period is errant. As another commentator observed, leopards do not change their spots. These individuals can still serve as "non-public" arbitrators but should never be classified as "public" arbitrators.
c) Lastly, there is a crucial agenda not addressed in FINRA's proposal but must be considered in the SEC's review. I have first-hand experience of receiving an arbitrator list which included a former FINRA/NASD employee with a 40-year tenure classified as a "public" arbitrator. As parties to FINRA arbitrations now only have limited opportunities to strike arbitrators, wasting a strike on a mis-classified arbitrator clearly undermines FINRA's efforts to appear fair to the investing public. Accordingly, I firmly believe that individuals who have been employed by securities industry trade organizations - such as FINRA - must be barred from being classified as "public" arbitrators, as well.
Thank you for this opportunity to submit my comments on this rule filing.