09.21.2016

In Unusual Upset of an Incumbent, Finra Board Elects New Small-Seat Representative

(this article first appeared on Investment News)

Robert Muh, chief executive of Sutter Securities, won a seat on the Finra board of governors representing small firms in an unusual victory over an incumbent.

Mr. Muh prevailed over four candidates vying for the position, including the governor running for reelection, Robert Keenan, owner and chief executive of St. Bernard Financial Services.

The results were announced Monday following a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. board meeting in Washington.

“I’m still enjoying the moment,” Mr. Muh said shortly after he was notified he won. “I’m looking forward to going to my first board meeting.”

He attributes his upset of Mr. Keenan to the fact that the candidates running for the small-firm seat split the vote. He also said that less than half of the eligible 3,571 small-firm members of Finra voted.

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Robert Muh

“I understand this is not a mandate,” said Mr. Muh, who has previously chaired the Finra small-firm advisory board and served on a regional committee.

He said he intends to address “a number of issues” that are important to small firms, which Finra defines as those with 150 or fewer registered representatives. But he hasn’t formulated a specific agenda.

“I need to meet with the other board members and establish some credibility first,” Mr. Muh said.

The Finra board decides which rules to propose and advances them to the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as oversees Finra’s operations. The SEC must approve Finra rules.

The 24-person Finra board is comprised of 12 public governors; 10 governors from the financial services industry; chairman Jack Brennan, chairman emeritus of the Vanguard Group; and Finra chief executive Robert W. Cook.

Of the industry members, three represent large firms, three are from small firms and one is from a medium-size firm. Board terms last for three years.

There will be no election for the open large-firm seat. Mary Mack, president and head of Wells Fargo Advisors, had been nominated but “withdrew as a candidate after a change in job responsibilities,” Finra said in an earlier election notice.

The Finra board also announced Monday that it had appointed two new public members: Eileen Murray, co-chief executive of Bridgewater Associates; and Hillary Sale, a professor of law at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.

Finra also reappointed four public governors: Rochelle B. Lazarus, chairman emeritus of Oglivy & Mather; Brigitte C. Madrian, a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; Leslie Seidman, former chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board; and Luis M. Viceira, a professor at the Harvard Business School.

Finra is the self-regulatory organization that oversees broker-dealers.

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