A4A’s Scott Martin nailed it today when he said FINRA's Richard Ketchum’s recent comments at an industry conference made him “a little sick.”
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Ketchum is CEO of NYSE Regulation, Inc. and non-executive chairman of the board of governors at FINRA. Before moving in 1991 to what is now FINRA, Ketchum worked at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission for 14 years. His recent comments to the press indicate he’s been at FINRA too long.
Ketchum was quoted defending FINRA’s decision to give Jon Corzine a free pass on Series 7 and 24 licensing exams after he reentered the industry in 2010, following five years as Senator and four years as Governor of New Jersey. Ketchum made his comments to reporters
after serving as the keynote speaker for the fall conference of the National Association of Independent Broker-Dealers in New York.
Ketchum basically justified FINRA’s decision to skirt its own rules by not requiring Corzine to retake licensing exams.
In fairness to Ketchum, FINRA did require Corzine to take a futures exam. And Ketchum told reporters that Corzine got the same treatment as industry executives who go off to work at the SEC or U.S. Treasury.
"If we were to apply burdens to people with wide-ranging experiences from the supervisory standpoint, who had had an exemplary career in the securities industry before going into public service, we would be acting like mindless regulators slapping on burdens for no reason," Ketchum reportedly said.
Ketchum is so ensconced among the leadership of Wall Street elitists that he fails to recognize how taking Series 7 and 24 exams may have reminded Corzine of his legal and ethical responsibilities and obligations.
The rules are there for a reason and they apply to everyone.
For Ketchum to defend FINRA's decision to give Corzine on pass on the exams by saying it was a professional courtesy is accorded all securities executives after government service only supports the notion that it wreaks of cronyism.
For the head of the securities industry self-regulatory organization to try to justify not following industry rules, in public, indicates that Richard Ketchum has been in charge at securities industry self-regulatory organizations for too long.
His judgment in publicly saying that some people do not have to follow some FINRA rules indicates that Ketchum is deaf to cries to end cronyism in securities regulation.
Ketchum should be hailed for his serviceto the industry and go back to work in the indistry or retire. Give him an award for doing the right thing for so many years, but it is time for him to go.
As the financial services industry emerges from the depths of the financial crisis, the same old regulators doing the same old things are not the best thing for this nation, and they’re not good for business.
Showing any tolerance for cronyism and regulatory laziness is not what you want in a regulator as Occupy Wall Street protesters are at this very moment are being routed from parks in downtown Manhattan.
The post-financial-crisis period should be a time of new beginnings for regulators, a fresh start.
FINRA needs news leadership.