It may surprise you (but probably shouldn’t) to learn that there are some people who think FINRA’s doing too good and too thorough a job regulating broker-dealers. That it’s really nobody’s business if a broker levies an unspoken lap dance fee. That its website is actually too up-to-date and too easy for clients to use to find out about the levying of unspoken lap dance fees. That the problem isn’t FINRA’s habit of whitewashing what broker records are available, but that there are just too many disciplinary actions being taken that require whitewashing. These people are called FINRA members, specifically its 3,550 small-firm members. And because self-regulation is a hilarious carnival of ineptitude and bad optics, these small firms get to elect a representative to FINRA’s board, to represent their interest in going unregulated to the greatest extent possible.
These triennial contests have all the hallmarks of a real political campaign: websites, mudslinging, throw-the-bums-out mentalities. Unsurprisingly, they also look an awful lot like a local Tea Party meeting, with candidate trying to one-up the other in making deregulatory promises they’ll never be able to keep in the face of the 23 other FINRA board members who don’t think it’s a great idea to provocatively antagonize customers, the press and the Securities and Exchange Commission at every turn.
This year, the bum getting thrown out was Robert Keenan, elected three years ago on the platform that the previous bum wasn’t doing enough to get these regulatory pencil pushers off their goddamned backs, and who was felled by the same sword. But the winner—who will get to serve alongside fellow new FINRA director and Bridgewater exec Eileen Murray—wasn’t the most fire-breathing of the candidate. Instead, by a margin of all of three votes out of 1,500 cast, the small folks of FINRA picked a 78-year-old former Bear Stearns, Bob Muh, partner to carry the doomed torch.
Mr. Muh, 78 years old, was seen as a moderate and experienced voice in a campaign in which Mr. Kohn accused Mr. Keenan of playing fast and loose with campaign rules and not pushing back hard enough against regulations that brokers oppose….
“I certainly can’t call it a landslide or a mandate, but I’m delighted I’ll have the chance to convince the independent directors on the board of some the changes that are need for the small firms,” Mr. Muh said in an interview Monday after Finra announced the results.