Financial Industry Association (FIA):Down and Out?
An irreverent Wall Street Blog
by Bill Singer
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Is the FINRA Dissident/Reform Movement Dead?
Written: May 28, 2008
I have received many phone calls and emails today from members of the Financial Industry Association (FIA) asking if I know why the organization's website is not operating. As best I understand, the SEC recently froze the assets of North American Clearing, Inc and obtained a temporary restraining order against that FINRA member firm, which was founded by Richard Goble (who was also one of the founders of FIA). I believe that North American is now under receivership. My best guess is that the servers handling FIA's website were located on North American's property and, as such, may no longer be operating. I have no idea as to whether Richard Goble plans to continue to operate FIA.
As many of you know, in July 2007, I severed my ties with FIA http://rrbdlaw.com/brokeandbroker/index.php?a=archive. No good purpose is now served by reiterating my past grievances. Those of you who know me, know the high premium I place on candor. I detest hypocrites and will not now play one. Regardless of the situation at North American, Richard was a dedicated NASD Reformer who worked long and hard to change that self regulator into one that was more responsive to the needs of the NASD indie/regional membership. I hold Richard in tremendous respect and fully appreciate his incredible efforts to stage successful contested elections throughout the NASD/FINRA local and national establishment. That legacy will never be tarnished.
Sadly, I do not know what the future for the NASD Reform Movement (as most recently led by Richard and his former colleague John Busacca) holds. John is planning on activating the Securities Industry Professionals Association (http://thesipa.com ), and I urge you all to monitor its progress.
For my part, as I recently posted on this blog, I am just about ready to retire from all things Reform and Dissident. Over a decade ago I helped form the NASD (now FINRA) Dissident Movement, and I have championed that agenda over the years. This most recent set back with FIA is just another nail in that coffin. It just seems that the deck is stacked against us reformists and dissidents. We elect folks and they resign or get forced out of office. We win elections and seem on the brink of restoring sanity, and the regulators change the rules and restructure their organization. The indie/regional community should be united in its agenda but some members of our community co-opt our efforts through counterproductive dealings with the very regulators we seek to reform. No matter what you hear, trust me on one thing: The regulators are not part of our industry. Those folks are career regulators and have built their own bureaucracy, which they jealously protect. In recent years their talk about reaching out to us in the industry has largely been nothing more than talk. I, for one, am still awaiting a meaningful sit down after years of promises. It's nothing more than hardball politics. Disgusting. And sleazy. You still think you can work "with" them in reforming the regulatory system? Look around at the devastation of Wall Street. Look at all the folks who have urged dialog for the past decade. This is an improvement? This is better?
As such, my answer is unchanged. "No"--I have no idea what will happen to FIA and am still not a member of that organization. "No" -- I have not joined any other industry trade group and have no idea as to whether I will ever again undertake such responsibilities.
I will try to keep you all posted here with updates on regulatory matters and my eventual decision as to whether I have permanently resigned from the the Dissident Movement and whether I will reconsider my decision about formally working with another trade group. As they say: Stay tuned.