CREATING LISTS SUCH AS THIS can be a notoriously capricious business. For starters, why only 10 people? Good question. But it forces a silly answer: The number 10 is a good number — simple as that. Yes, it's somewhat arbitrary, but the object is to identify some basic trends and big issues. And then go out and find the individuals who will do the most to shape those trends and issues over the next year (or two or three). We think such a process makes for an interesting, albeit quirky, mix of people from various financial services precincts. (Turn to page 67 to get an update on last year's picks.)
Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee. A member of the far- left wing of the Democratic Party, Frank can be counted on to hit the key themes of his party: economic inequality, taxing the rich and other populist topics. These are hot button issues that will affect your clients in a big way. In fact, Frank recently held a round table discussion to consider “how to respond to the persistent growth in economic inequality and the resulting anger that dominates today's politics.” Frank voted against most of Bush's tax cuts, so you can expect a lively legislative agenda over the next year or so — an agenda that may make some wealthy clients nervous.
Jim Hays of Wachovia Securities represents the consolidation trend. His job is to run the branch network, trying to rationalize the combined entity without making reps unhappy. That's a tough job. As we stated in last month's issue, if the Wachovia-A.G. Edwards marriage works, it could be open season on the regionals. Which leads us to Ron Kruszewski, CEO of Stifel Nicolaus. We chose Kruszewski because we hear rumors that Stifel is takeover bait (he denies it). Of course, one hears all kinds of crazy things, especially in this booming market. And yet the Wachovia-AGE deal caught many of us by total surprise.
Will the acquisition send AGE reps running to other shops? One can only guess, but firms using the independent-contractor strategy are hoping reps continue to move. Interestingly, Jim Cannon, CEO of AIG Financial Advisors, found that some reps who came to his firm for independence rather liked AIG's halfway house, a traditional employee platform that nurses reps to independent contractor status. Many advisors stayed put and never moved on. Some say this hybrid model — like Raymond James, where reps can affiliate as they like — is the wave of the future.
Then again, the fully independent RIA model is doing plenty well itself. Schwab Institutional, for instance, had amassed an impressive $556 billion in assets by the end of the second quarter. But without Deborah McWhinney, the beloved former head of the business, can Schwab's custody business continue to grow at the same pace? You'll want to keep an eye on Mcwhinney's replacement, Charles Goldman, who worked closely with her before she left. So far, he seems to be keeping the ship on an even keel.
Kris Robbins, CEO of Security Benefit, has been busy remaking his company into a retirement products company — something that is taking place at many financial services firms. Security Benefit's recent announcement that it would buy Rydex Investments, the maker of exotic mutual funds and ETFs, should help in winning better distribution through wirehouse and regional b/ds. In other asset management news, Tom Marsico, the growth specialist who runs Marsico Funds, bought his firm back from Bank of America. It'll be interesting to see if he can continue to gather assets on his own.
On the academic front, Harry Kat, a Dutch economist who gave up running Bank of America's equity-derivatives desk, is designing “synthetic” hedge funds — using mechanical futures-trading strategies to generate better risk-return properties than hedge funds. Kat says that hedge funds don't live up to their reputation as great generators of alpha after investors pay the carry and 20 percent of any profits.
Keep your eye on Barbara Roper, director of Investor Protection for the Consumer Federation of America. She is a lobbyist who has access to the chairman of the SEC. Oh, and she thinks the way financial advisors get paid to sell mutual funds is rife with conflicts of interest. Roper is on an SEC panel studying 12b-1 fees. Finally, what about your clients? Steven Caruso, a lawyer and president of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, argues that retail clients get a raw deal because they can't sue you and your firm in an actual court. Caruso and his group have attracted the attention of some lawmakers in Washington.
Age: 46 | Position: President and CEO | Firm: AIG Financial Advisors | Location: Phoenix, Ariz. | Education: Arizona State University
Industry consultants say the wave of wirehouse and regional reps going independent has slowed, but Jim Cannon thinks he's got something to get it going again. Cannon's independent broker/dealer, AIG Financial Advisors, is offering a hybrid model, which allows advisors to affiliate as independent contractors or work as employees. In essence, Cannon says AIG is trying to create a home for advisors who want the benefits of independence, like open architecture and a higher payout, with the infrastructure of a wirehouse. (Of course, every independent b/d executive says that.)
The firm first launched its Advisor Select program in 2005, after hearing from wirehouse advisors that they were interested in going independent, but were uncomfortable with the idea of being small business owners. In other words, they didn't want to deal with paying rent, setting up the technology or paying for office furniture. The program is small; the aim is to have 150 advisors over the next two years.
Advisors in the program are on the AIG payroll, and work out of AIG branches. Advisors have access to the same product and support platforms available to the firm's independent reps, and depending on a rep's production, payouts can range between 55 and 65 percent. Advisors with production levels above $600,000 can enjoy a payout of 70 percent.
Dennis Gallant, of Gallant Distribution Consulting, says AIG's model is something all independent b/ds are going to have to think about in order to attract more advisors. And that's just what Cannon has in mind. He says one of the biggest drivers of the Advisor Select program will likely be advisors from regional firms whose b/ds are being bought and sold. Advisors from these firms will be in search of a new home that resembles their former b/d, and Cannon says the Advisor Select model will be the answer. — Halah Touryalai
Age: 46 | Position: President of PIABA and a partner in Maddox Hargett & Caruso | Location: New York, N.Y. Education: Hofstra University School of Law | American University
Plaintiffs' lawyers have been griping that mandatory arbitration of investor disputes is fundamentally unfair. These complaints have been dismissed as bellyaching by the securities industry, which has an ace in its side pocket. That would be the 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision that green-lighted the constitutionality of mandatory arbitration clauses. But plaintiffs' lawyers are fed up, and some legislators are listening.
In May, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.), wrote to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox demanding that the agency come up with alternatives to allow investors the option to go to court. They wrote, “Where investors face a stark choice between signing a mandatory arbitration agreement and foregoing investment related services, we cannot say honestly that arbitration has been voluntarily selected.”
That opening salvo has given Steven B. Caruso, president of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, inspiration and hope. Caruso, a partner at New York's Maddox Hargett & Caruso, P.C., spent about a decade on the other side of the aisle as an in-house lawyer at brokerage firms. Now he represents retail investors in complaints against reps. (“Does your broker make you broker?” asks the Maddox Hargett website.) PIABA is calling on Congress to “immediately halt” mandatory arbitration. After all, the percentage of customer recoveries is at an all-time low, as is the percentage of damages recovered when an investor wins; the number of so-called “public” arbitrators (many of whom, in fact, have clear ties to the securities industry) is higher than ever. “We continue to discuss the issue with Congress and other regulators, and remain hopeful that at some point in the not too distant future, someone will give a damn that investors continue to be tied to a conflicted system that does not provide a fair forum for resolution of their disputes,” he says. — Karen Donovan
Age: 67 | Position: Chairman, House Financial Services Committee | Location: Washington, D.C. | Education: Harvard Law School
What a difference a midterm election makes. Two years ago, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), then the minority leader at the House Financial Services Committee, called a hearing in March 2005. The goal? To vet complaints about mandatory arbitration of brokerage customer disputes. Frank, however, ended up talking to himself — the room was nearly empty. Apparently everyone was down the hall watching major league baseball players being grilled on steroid use.
Frank is in the driver's seat now as the committee's chairman, and he intends on carrying a big stick. On June 26, a standing-room only crowd gathered as Frank presided over a marathon session in which all five members of the SEC submitted to a grab bag of questions. Never one to mince words, Frank was blunt throughout, often pounding the gavel to cut off his Democrat colleagues.
A graduate of Harvard Law, Frank won the congressional seat held by Father Robert Drinan, the liberal Jesuit, in 1981; he currently resides in Newton, Mass. This is Kennedy country, and while Frank is unabashedly liberal on social issues, he has parted ways with fellow Democrats on financial regulation. In 1995, he voted for the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act to curb alleged abuses by plaintiffs' lawyers, overriding President Clinton's veto. Expect sound and fury ahead.
“For the next year-and-a-half, Chairman Frank will be a looming presence, ready to pounce if any financial regulator overreaches, missteps, or if there is a blowup or scandal in the financial services industry,” said Robert J. Giuffra Jr., a partner at New York's Sullivan & Cromwell, chief counsel at the Senate Banking Committee in 1995 and a chief drafter of the PSLRA. “As Chairman, he can investigate, hold hearings and generate press. With divided government, we should expect much oversight, but no new laws.” — Karen Donovan
Second Act Superman
Age: 46 | Position: Head of Schwab Institutional, Charles Schwab | Location: San Francisco, Calif. | Education: University of Southern California University of California at Los Angeles
Charles Goldman has some big shoes to fill. The new head of Schwab Institutional, the RIA custodian business of Charles Schwab, he took over from Deborah McWhinney when she abruptly resigned in May 2007. McWhinney was well-loved by the firm's advisors, who say she was a tireless advocate for their concerns, and great at connecting with people. She also captained a period of outstanding growth: Assets shot up to $556 billion in the second quarter of this year, almost doubling the $224 billion on the books in the first quarter of 2001, when she joined. (It is rumored that Debby left because she was passed over for the No. 2 job under Schwab CEO Chuck Schwab — it went to Walt Bettinger instead.)
Goldman's biggest challenge will be to keep current Schwab advisors happy. After all, the firm says that's where the real growth is. So far, Goldman seems to be doing better than most advisors expected. “Talking with him [at an event] about some of the challenges we face, I was surprised [at] how in tune he was,” says Rick Bloom, president of Bloom Asset Management, a Schwab-affiliated RIA. Certainly, Goldman is no stranger to the business. He worked under McWhinney as chief operating officer of Schwab Institutional for two-and-a-half years, and helped her develop the current growth strategy that has Schwab Institutional reaching $1 trillion in assets by 2010. And that strategy will stay in place.
Goldman also has to stay a few steps ahead of the No. 2 custodian, Fidelity Registered Investment Advisor Group (FRIAG), which is aggressively going after Schwab's crown. The firm has said it plans to displace Schwab as No.1 by 2010. But that's a pretty tall order. — Kristen French
Age: 44 | Position: President of Wachovia's Private Client Group | Location: Richmond, Va. / St. Louis, Mo. | Education: University of Virginia
Some might say that Jim Hays holds Wachovia Securities' near future in his hands. Well, at the very least, he will have a big impact on how Wachovia's acquisition of A.G. Edwards ultimately goes. Hays has a tough assignment — integrating the 200 or so branch offices around the country that overlap — without alienating either Wachovia or AGE reps.
The $6.9 billion deal is not expected to close until the fourth quarter of 2008, with integration scheduled for the first quarter of 2009, so he's got some time. But he may need it.
“He has the potential to be one of the more disliked people, because he's going to be faced with some tough decisions,” says one top AGE producer who asked not to be identified. Many studies have shown that one of the primary reasons reps leave a firm is because of problems with their branch managers. He adds, “And you are potentially going to change the local management at 200 plus branches.” Also, the cities with the most overlap are likely to be the larger cities, where most of both firms' advisors work.
Of course, the retention package will also play a big part. That was made public in late June (on a sliding scale, 20 to 70 percent upfront, and for the biggest producers, an extra 20 to 30 percent after 10 years). Predictably, while some reps are happy with what they're getting, others are not.
Some AGE advisors say they are wary of a guy like Hays, who spent several years working at Merrill Lynch. Many see Merrill Lynch as a firm that embodies the kind of cold corporate culture that is totally at odds with their regional, small-town ways. Still, after meeting with him, one AGE rep says he's very “personable,” very smart and very good with numbers, all things that give him some confidence that he just might pull it off. — Kristen French
Age: 43 | Position: Professor of Risk Management, Cass Business School, City of London | Location: London, U.K. | Education: University of Amsterdam
Like nearly every other investor out there, Harry Kat is obsessed with generating alpha. The trouble is, alpha is even harder to find than you might already think. Take hedge funds, for example. According to Kat's research, only around 20 percent of the hedge funds and funds of funds “convincingly” beat their benchmarks net of fees. And that out-performance tends to deteriorate over time as they get bigger. Worse, the investments are typically illiquid and sometimes volatile. “The difference between reality and reputation is primarily due to a thing called ‘marketing,’” Kat says in an email to Rep.
So, with a partner from his business school, Kat, a former derivatives trader, launched FundCreator, a computer program that uses futures to produce hedge-fund like returns, but without the illiquidity or the risk (unless, you want it; for details, go to fundcreator.com). The aim of FundCreator is to replicate the return distribution of successful hedge funds (or funds of funds), such as Soros Quantum Fund or fund indexes. Put in your desired correlation to stocks and bonds, preferred volatility and the like, and voila, the program spits out a customized futures trading strategy for you (to be used as a part of a diversified asset allocation strategy). All this for 36 basis points per annum (pre-transaction costs).
Kat calls his hedge fund “inspired” and “synthetic”; others call it hedge fund replication, or cloning. And it is widely popular these days (along with “portable alpha”). Many firms say they are launching similar products. To date, there isn't much money in hedge fund cloning, and what's there is institutional. Kat argues that there is $1.2 trillion invested in excessive-fee-type hedge funds (and funds of funds) that might be interested in his cheap futures trading strategies. Kat has just $130 million (about three clients) using FundCreator. His “big leap” will come when his program is rolled out for smaller investors, he says. And that's soon. — David A. Geracioti
Age: 48 | Position: Chairman, president and CEO of Stifel Financial Corporation; Chairman and CEO of Stifel Nicolaus Firm: Stifel Financial Corporation; Stifel Nicolaus | Location: St. Louis, Mo. | Education: Indiana University
When people say Stifel Nicolaus will be the next regional brokerage firm up for sale, Ron Kruszewski responds with: “Merrill Lynch will go before Stifel Nicolaus.” In other words — Stifel is not for sale. No, not even for the 2.3 times annual revenue that Wachovia paid for AG Edwards. “I wouldn't take it,” he says. Kruszewski says that the 20 percent premium on Stifel shares that that price represents wouldn't be nearly enough. Nonetheless, the speculation is understandable given the stock's performance: Stifel shares leapt 9 percent after the AGE news and are up an industry-smashing 660 percent in the last five years.
But Kruszewski, like Raymond James' Tom James, is used to others predicting his future and the future of his firm. Stifel Nicolaus, the 117 year-old Midwestern regional broker/dealer, along with Raymond James, represent the last of the regional b/d breed. And Stifel would be an attractive morsel for many large firms. For Kruszewski, that's more of a reason to press on, not sell out. “Like Tom James, we believe we have the capital, the scale and all the tools to compete,” he says.
With a market capitalization of more than $850 million, Stifel Nicolaus is still relatively small. And the firm is prosperous: Revenues, which were just north of $250 million three years ago, are expected to be greater than $800 million this year. The integration of Ryan Beck, Bank Atlantic's brokerage arm that Stifel bought in January, is expected to be complete this month. According to Kruszewski they've lost all of “two” Ryan Beck brokers. “There will be plenty of continued success at the wires, but for those reps who don't like that setting, we're a very successful alternative.” — John Churchill
The Growth Guy
Age: 52 | Position: CEO and Founder | Firm: Marsico Capital Management | Location: Denver, Colo. | Education: University of Colorado | University of Denver
Tom Marsico does his best to stay out of the spotlight, but given the success of his small lineup of growth-oriented mutual funds, flying under the radar is getting tough. Especially now, in the wake of his decision to buy back his company, Marsico Capital Management, from Bank of America for an undisclosed amount.
In his 10th year since leaving Janus, Marsico finds himself on the cusp of entering a new league, as assets have swelled to $96 billion under the Bank of America umbrella. His combination of a top-down macro view of the markets, and bottom-up fundamental research has enabled him to consistently outperform his peers and weather down markets — all that with a concentrated portfolio of just 25 to 40 stocks.
“The firm has produced well above-average performance and asset growth relative to other firms that were powerhouses in the 1990s,” says FRC analyst Bridget Bearden. Burton Greenwald, a mutual fund consultant, says, “When you reach $100 billion in assets, you are in a rarified atmosphere.”
The move is also an opportunity for Marsico to run his company unfettered by a large bank. But Marsico will continue to sub-advise Bank of America's Columbia Funds, which enjoy robust distribution. Last year, Marsico funds reaped $3.8 billion in net flows from Columbia.
The new league he's in, however, does bring some challenges. “It raises capacity issues,” says Morningstar analysist Karen Dolan. “The question is does he have the resources to handle a firm of that size, and will it make him less nimble?”
Marsico has managed to put up big numbers at a time when growth has been largely out of favor. When growth begins to overtake value, look for Marsico to be a beneficiary. Provided he can manage the challenges of being a large asset manager, Marsico could have a very big year. — Kevin Burke
The Retirement Builder
Age: 48 | Position: Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer | Firm: Security Benefit | Location: Topeka, Kan. | Education: Murray State University Business School
Security Benefit's almost $1 billion acquisition of Rydex Investments, announced in June, seemed like a pretty odd match to some. Securities Benefit is an insurance company that has been around for over 100 years and does business mostly in variable annuity products and retirement plans, while Rydex is an upstart investment management firm that uses a quantitative approach, catering primarily to independent fee-based advisors. Some people are wondering just what a stodgy old insurance company wants with a cutting-edge investment shop.
Security Benefit's CEO Kris Robbins says those people are wrong: “We're really a different organization than most people know, and I think managing the misconception is a challenge.” He adds, “Rydex is not lined up to a sleepy insurance company. We haven't sold a traditional life insurance policy in 10 years.” Today Security manages about $20 billion and is among the top 10 providers of 403(b) defined contribution plans in the country. Rydex manages $15.6 billion through 58 mutual funds, 25 exchange traded funds (ETFs) and 55 institutional products. (The businesses will operate separately.)
Jeff Keil of Keil Fiduciary Strategies, an advisor to fund companies, says the biggest challenge will be reconciling the firms' very distinct client bases. Security Benefit's clientele are mostly conservative investors seeking asset protection, while Rydex's clients are attracted to some of Rydex's sexier high-octane funds, such as its double beta index fund.
It will be interesting to see what shakes out. Champions of the deal say Security's expertise in retirement could actually open a lot of doors for Rydex. Meanwhile, Rydex will not only improve Security's asset management capabilities, but improve its distribution opportunities overnight. Both companies have strong ties to the independent broker/dealer channel; the new combined company will try to expand distribution through both the wirehouses and the regional b/ds. When combined, the firms will serve about 40,000 advisors and over 850 b/ds. — Christina Mucciolo
Age: 51 | Title: Director of Investor Protection | Firm: Consumer Federation of America | Location: Pueblo, Colo. | Education: Princeton University
Maybe you've never heard of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), a “pro-consumer” lobby established in 1968. But you probably should have. That's because Barbara Roper, the director of Investor Protection at the CFA, is a vocal advocate of reform in the financial services industry. Roper and her group worked alongside the Financial Planning Association supporting the FPA's lawsuit to vacate the broker/dealer exemption. This was accomplished by filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals, and through meetings with lawmakers, SEC staff and state regulators.
The rule allowed registered reps to act like registered investment advisors (with some stipulations). A court vacated the rule in May; firms were given 120 days to figure out what to do with their fee-based brokerage accounts. Roper called the rule confusing, since the CFA's research found that most retail investors probably don't understand the distinction between a registered rep and a registered financial advisor. “When the SEC proposed that rule in 1999, Barbara was out front and vocal,” says Duane Thompson, managing director of the Financial Planning Association. “She is an institution unto herself as a watchdog for the consumers of financial services.”
“But she is fiercely independent,” Thompson adds. When the CFP Board revised its code of ethics to allow certified financial planners to opt out of the fiduciary standard, “Barbara slammed them on it.”
And now Roper is lobbying legislators and regulators, and appearing in the press and on TV to overhaul the way financial advisors get paid on the sale of mutual funds. Quite simply, Roper says, “I have a problem with financial services fees overall.” She argues that mutual fund companies probably should not pay advisors at all. “The way brokers are compensated creates significant conflicts of interest harmful to retail investors.” She is currently serving on an SEC panel to examine 12b-1 fees. “There is a lack of transparency with 12b-1 fees, and they are not understood by investors,” Roper says. “It's my personal view that it is not a coincidence.” She doesn't think 12b-1 fees are necessarily “bad,” but certainly there needs to be better disclosure to consumers. “If you are going to give personalized financial advice, you ought to be a fiduciary,” she says. — David A. Geracioti
Where Are They Now?
An update on last year's Ten To Watch.
Rudy Adolf, CEO and Founder, Focus Financial Partners.
Last year's challenge: Buy stakes in rapidly growing independent firms in an effort to build a national wealth management company.
How he's doing: With the backing of private equity giant, Summit Partners, Rudy's firm is at the top of the heap in the so-called wealth management “roll-up” space. In the last year, Adolf's Focus has acquired stakes in six RIA firms and increased total assets under management to over $19 billion from $4.5 billion last year.
Rob Arnott, Chairman, Research Affiliates
Last year's challenge: To popularize his investing theory of “fundamental” indexes: that indexing based on market value tends to overweight overvalued companies and underweight undervalued companies.
How he's doing: Arnott, who licensed his concept to the FTSE Group, sub-advises for PowerShares ETFs, Schwab funds and others; total assets in fundamental indexing (including rival firms such as WisdomTree) have grown quickly to nearly $18 billion.
Ben Bernanke, Chairman, Federal Reserve
Last year's challenge: Keep inflation in check without smothering the economy.
How he's doing: As measured by the stock market, the economy is good. As for inflation, Bernanke recently told Congress that it's running at a 1.9 percent annual rate. That's within the Fed's comfort zone of 1 to 2 percent.
Andrew ‘Buddy’ Donohue, Director, SEC Division of Investment Management
Last year's challenge: Last year, Buddy inherited several ongoing hot topics, including the future of the “broker/dealer exemption,” the independence of mutual fund directors and the use of soft dollars.
How he's doing: Buddy has been working steadily, but where actual resolution of these challenges is concerned, he's 0 for three. For example, a U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the “Merrill rule” in March, but some industry lobbyists are now threatening to take the issue to Congress. On the other two, there's been more talk than action.
Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock
Last year's challenge: To integrate Merrill Lynch Investment Management and BlackRock, without compromising profitability or suffering an exodus of portfolio managers.
How he's doing: Fink signed all the portfolio managers to contracts within the first few weeks, merged redundant funds and steered the new company to strong profits. As of March 31, total assets under management stood at $1.2 trillion, up $29.5 billion (or 2.6 percent) since the fourth quarter.
Catherine Gordon, Principal, Vanguard Advice Services Group
Last year's challenge: Develop Vanguard's call center offerings to include comprehensive financial plans for its clients with the help of 200 certified financial planners.
How she's doing: More than 50,000 clients have signed up for the service since its inception in April 2006. Vanguard says that the demand has been driven by clients with more than $250,000 in assets.
James Gorman, President and COO, Global Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley
Last year's challenge: To continue to notch advisor productivity and asset gains, instill confidence among the rank-and-file and turn the recruiting tide from net defections to net hires.
How he's doing: In the second quarter, annualized revenues and assets per financial advisor shot up to $814,000 and $89 million, respectively, putting Morgan neck-and-neck with industry leader Merrill Lynch. Morgan also recruited a net 144 financial advisors for the quarter, bringing the total to 8,137.
Marten Hoekstra, Head of UBS Wealth Management U.S.
Last year's challenge: Improve UBS' stateside brokerage operations to mirror the successes of its international counterparts.
How he's doing: Acquiring 349 McDonald Investments brokers added much needed scale, but isn't enough to improve profit margins (10 percent of revenues), which still lag peers. But through the first quarter, client asset growth and net new money have been near the top among wires.
Man Investments, U.S. asset management arm of Man Group Plc.
Last year's challenge: Jumpstart the struggling U.S. retail operation — a small fraction of its $65 billion assets worldwide — by generating more interest among financial advisors in hedge funds.
How it's doing: Man beefed up its sales force and listed a hedge fund on the New York Stock Exchange for investors with as little as $2,000. Man has also been launching new retirement products for accredited investors. Analysts say that there is plenty of upside in the U.S. for Man, but it's not happening at a rapid clip.
Mary Schapiro, Chairman and CEO Securities Industry Regulatory Authority
Last year's challenge: Convince members — and the investing public — that self-regulation works, that it can be fair and that regulators aren't always the enemy, as some smaller broker/dealers contend.
How she's doing: Despite many small firms railing against the NYSE/NASD merger, the new head of the combo regulator, SIRA, or FINRA, or whatever name they ultimately decide on, says she learned a lot on her listening tour, especially from the smaller members.