Securities industry executives met with members of the press in mid-January to outline some of the Securities Industry Associations top priorities for 1999, which include bolstering public trust and confidence in the industry and ironing out any remaining Y2K problems.
But the topic that elicited the most emotional response from SIA President Marc Lackritz was one reporters question about racial discrimination and minority participation in the securities industry. With Jesse Jacksons Wall Street Coalition scheduled to meet across town at the same time as the SIA briefing, the topic seemed timely. Although Lackritz said the SIA has launched a study of minority participation in the industry, he provided few details about exactly what kind of data is being gathered.
Lackritz then turned his attention to the topic of arbitration of discrimination claims. While the SIA is not orchestrating a pro-arbitration movement, Lackritz said that minorities who pursue discrimination claims in arbitration are much better off than those who battle in the courtroom, usually at the encouragement of contingency-fee lawyers who are hoping to win the lottery. Arbitrations are faster, average awards are higher and there is a higher probability of winning for claimants, according to a study conducted by the SIA, Lackritz said.
The only people who get rewarded [in courtroom confrontations] are the lawyers, with all due respect to my former profession, Lackritz said.