February 5, 2013
I am an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, and my practice areas include the representation of public customers in securities arbitrations.
I support FINRA's proposed changes to the definition of a "public" arbitrator. Arbitrators who have past or present affiliations with mutual fund companies and hedge funds should be excluded from the public pool.
However, although the proposed rule is an improvement of the present system, the look back periods under the rule remain unfair to investors. The perception of fairness of the arbitration process is critical, and the appearance or possibility of bias carried by a former industry participant lingers even after they have been out of the business. Therefore, FINRA should provide a bright line rule that any arbitrators who previously have been affiliated with the financial services industry cannot be classified as "public" arbitrators.