FINRA announced the departure of another key executive Friday. Howard Schloss, who is head of corporate communications and government relations for the broker/dealer regulator and has been a key figure in lobbying efforts to grant FINRA oversight of investment advisers, will leave in September after 12 years with the organization.
The announcement came on the same day that the regulator released its annual report showing a loss of $84 million and coincides with an SEC review of FINRA’s executive compensation practices and other matters prompted by a Government Accountability Report released in May. Schloss earned over $1 million in 2010 and took a pay cut in 2011 to $732,000, according to FINRA’s annual report.
In a statement sparse with details, Schloss said “I felt it was time for me to make a change some time in 2012.” According to FINRA, Schloss offered his resignation in March, but FINRA boss Richard Ketchum asked him to stay through the summer.
“Compensation is probably not the reason for his departure,” said Duane Thompson, president and founder of Potomac Strategies, a public relations and lobbying firm. “He’s been there a long time.” FINRA has 10 senior executives who make several millions a year, and “they’re probably defensive about it, but that doesn’t mean people would have to walk because of a study.”
FINRA recently announced the departures of two high-level members of its legal staff. T. Grant Callery, FINRA's general counsel, retired and Marc Menchel, FINRA's general counsel for regulation left to pursue other positions. The two were replaced with one new hire: former SEC official Bob Colby.
One Washington insider who preferred not to be identified said the timing of Schloss’ departure seems odd, considering his role in FINRA’s SRO push. “We’re right in the middle of this pretty significant legislative debate over whether there should be an SRO for advisers. The clock is ticking in a lot of ways,” he said. But rumors about Schloss’ departure have been circulating for months. “Recruiters have been calling people in Washington looking to fill the spot,” he said.