One thing is clear about Rick Ketchum, the chairman and chief executive officer of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority: No one is apathetic about him. Advisor regulation is a center stage issue, as FINRA lobbies to be named the industry organization that oversees financial advisors. Ketchum is known as intelligent, talented and sincere about the need to regulate all types of financial advice consistently. But the many passionate advocates of the fiduciary standard worry that Ketchum's brokerage industry credentials-he presided over the New York Stock Exchange, NASD and the Nasdaq Stock Market, and was a director of market regulation for the Securities and Exchange Commission-make him personally unsuitable for the task.
Ketchum knows that. He has been questioned by RIAs about how brokerage- and suitability-oriented FINRA will gain trust from advisors on the fiduciary side of the aisle. What does FINRA mean by harmonization? Which fiduciary standard would it enforce? FINRA also faces persistent suspicions about its finances. According to FINRA's 2008 tax filing and annual report, 13 current and former executives received millions in compensation even as the organization lost money in 2008. It is also unclear how much Ketchum is paid at FINRA, notes David Tittsworth, executive director of the Investment Adviser Association. "I think the issues here are a lack of accountability and lack of transparency and those are serious issues," he said.
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