FINRA Board Looks for Diversity

diversityIn the coming year, board recruitment and diversity will be critical for FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Marcia Asquith is FINRA’s executive vice president of Board and External Relations, and she was the latest guest on FINRA’s podcast, Unscripted.

Asquith talked about some of the most important board accomplishments of 2018 and talked about the goals for 2019.

The FINRA board is made up of ten industry governors, twelve public governors, and Robert Cooke, the CEO of FINRA.

Asquith said public governors are those folks who are outside the industry.

Within the industry, the board includes three small firm governors, one mid-size firm governor, three large firm governors.

Each of those governors is elected from their peer group: be it small, mid, or large firms.

There all also three more industry board members who are appointed.

A small firm has less than one-hundred and fifty brokers, mid-size firms have 150-499 brokers, and large firms have more than that.

Asquith noted, “In 2019 we’re going to lose four board members.”

Asquith continued, “We’re losing some diversity; we’re losing three women in this class, and we’re also looking at racial and geographic diversity.”

The governors from outside the industry have included all sorts of executives and even one president, Asquith noted.

FINRA was formed in 2007 when the regulatory arms of the NASD and the NYSE merged, but before that, the NASD board included Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States.

When asked if former Presidents Barack Obama and George Bush would be considered, Asquith joked, “We’re very particular, but we would talk to them.”

Jimmy Carter, the 39th President, and Bill Clinton, the 42nd President, are the other two living former Presidents.

Asquith said that whereas the CEO, Robert Cooke, and other FINRA executives are responsible for the day to day operations of FINRA, the board’s job is to oversee the executives.

In that role, Asquith said that in 2018, the board emphasized overseeing FINRA 360.

“2018 certainly was the year of ensuring that FINRA 360 and the progress that we made through that initiative was institutionalized.”

FINRA 360 began in early 2017; it is “a multi-year initiative to process and act upon feedback about how FINRA could do better. Cook has solicited feedback at every turn – internally, from FINRA member firms, from investors and investor advocates and other stakeholders.” According to FINRA’s site.

Cooke was on Unscripted talking about FINRA 360 in November 2017.

Going forward, Asquith said, “In 2019, the board will be focused a lot on board recruitment.”