The soon to be combined enforcement divisions of the NASD and the New York Stock Exchange nixed its new name, which would have been Securities Industry Regulatory Authority, or SIRA, and changed it to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, according to The Wall Street Journal.
SIRA sounds similar to an Arabic word, commonly spelled Sirah, which refers to the biographies of the Prophet Muhammad. Almost immediately, the NASD began receiving complaints from Muslims who found the name offensive, said NASD spokesman Howard Schloss.
“We don’t want to give the impression that there was a lot of feedback, but we did get some,” he said. None of the complaints received were “threatening” but the association decided to drop the name and start over, Schloss said.
An outside agency was hired to help create a name several months ago. The Muslim connection was raised to the NASD’s attention, but they were assured by its branding advisers that it wouldn’t be a problem, Schloss said. He declined to identify the advisers.
The acronym is reminiscent of “certain unpleasant diseases” said NYSE Chief Executive John Thain.
“I will simply respond to the ribbing regarding the acronym by repeating the question from Romeo and Juliet, ‘What’s in a name?’” said Mary Schapiro, chairman of the NASD.
However, Edward Saenz, founder of San Francisco-based Gravity Branding believes there is a lesson to be learned from the NASD. Organizations that want to be taken seriously, he said, should always conduct linguistic tests to avoid renaming disasters. “It is better to be safe than sorry,” he said.
The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.