The Blog Of The Securities Industry Professional Association

The Small Firm Advisory Board Debate

Confused about who to vote for? ..So are we.

The SIPA has been receiving countless e-mails and phone calls from members and non members asking how they should vote. Based upon the NAC election many feel comfortable the SIPA will give them a blunt and honest assessment of the candidates. We would love to wave a magic wand and tell thousands across the country how we think they should vote but quite frankly, the SFAB is a quite confusing and mostly ineffective group. Now I know we probably just ruffled a lot of feathers and we do acknowledge that there have been some issues in which they have had some influence on regulation. However the truth of the matter is that the SFAB is mostly a symbolic gesture from the powers that be at FINRA to show that they actually care about small firms. I’m going to let you in on a little secret but please do not tell anyone:

FINRA does NOT care about small firms..Shhhhssshh…keep it a secret.

I know, I know, this is rather shocking considering all the help they give small firms these days ( if you did not note the sarcasm please feel free to call me and I will explain it to you in greater detail). The truth of the matter is that even the SFAB, which was supposed to be a telephone line into the Board of Governors, is nothing more then a puppet squad of FINRA ring leaders who push the FINRA agenda on small firms. Think about this for a second:

The SFAB consists of 5 elected candidates and 5 candidates appointed by FINRA. Why are they appointing any candidates to voice small firm concerns? One reason is that they can keep a large consensus from being formed that might actually demand action from the Board. I want to preface this next statement by saying I personally like former SFAB Chairman Bill Alsover. We have had many talks, debates and a couple beers discussing regulation over the years. However when all was said and done, Bill was in total agreement with FINRA about 95% of the time and was crucial to FINRA when they sold the hasty merger of NYSE and NASD in 2007. Is it any wonder that Bill then served on the first new Board and now subsequently works for FINRA? You may be thinking that if one of the dissident candidates becomes chair he or she can change things but the truth of the matter is that FINRA is under no obligation to listen to anything the SFAB says and they would most definitely not come out with news blasts showing members that the SFAB opposes FINRA on a particular issue. There are several good candidates running that I have known for several years. Dan Roberts of the West Region sticks out to me because he has been serving time and fighting the good fight for small firms for many years. Dan does carry a lot of respect amongst small firms and FINRA, most likely because he has the ability to say the same thing I am saying without being so blunt. In the north it is even harder to decide who would be a good representative. I have known Tina Blakely Maloney for some time and she did work tirelessly with us to stop that ill fated merger in 2007. Tommasina Olsen, is also an excellent candidate to consider. We have spoken many times over the years and I can tell you first hand that “Tommi” as she is known to friends, is a small firm owner who gets it. I hate the fact that the vote is being so split because this only serves to divide and I would ask that anyone who does get elected please make eliminating FINRA’s appointment of half the SFAB seats their first priority. Best of luck to all candidates and hopefully you can prove us all wrong and make the SFAB a power broker for the small firms of this country.

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November 4th, 2009



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