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Tales from Wall St. about heavy-handed Finra
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Tales from Wall St. about heavy-handed Finra

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Tales from Wall St. about heavy-handed Finra

From the New York Post:

The pendulum, as you know, always swings too far back in the other direction.
During the financial crisis it was clear that investors got screwed because regulators just weren't watching the antics of Wall Street firms closely enough.
Now, financial firms -- both big and small -- are complaining that regulations are becoming too harsh and restrictive.
The big firms hate what the Federal Reserve, the Securities & Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department and Congress are doing to them.
The small firms are aiming their wrath at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra, which is funded by Wall Street itself. They accuse Finra of blowing it and causing job losses in the securities
As I wrote in a column last week, small brokerage firms are now complaining that Finra is picking on them since they are easier targets than the bigger brokerage operations that might fight back.
The numbers bear this out even though Finra tried to hide behind misleading percentages of "actions" taken against each class of brokerage firm.
Last Sunday, The Post had a story about Peter Schiff, who runs a modest-sized brokerage firm, Euro Pacific Capital.
Schiff would like to expand -- and create jobs -- but he says that laws passed by Congress, aided and abetted by Finra, are preventing him from doing so.
Schiff says while he's managing to keep his payroll steady these days he did have to lay off workers in past years.
My column on Finra generated e-mail from other aggrieved parties. Here are some; others will run in future columns. I've changed some details and initials so Finra can't seek reprisals against the senders.
John: If my name were on the door, I could give you tons of stories about Finra. This should be a larger article.
You did not even mention how everything causes a fine today. This is the only industry where we must be perfect! People make clerical errors!
What about the trainees they send to our firms to audit us but (who) know nothing from the broker end. We waste so much time with these people.
Finra is a whole different story. They started an examination last year and they are still not finished. We have not made markets since 2006, yet they still come in and harass us.
You should be interviewing more small firms. You would be surprised at what you hear. My firm has 50 employees and has been around for decades.
We are still open to keep people employed even though we are losing money. -- H.S.
(And this one.)
John: I read your article with great interest. I'm a former NASD examiner, and I can assure you the smaller firms are treated worse than the larger ones.
The larger firms have their employees on the various committees (of Finra) and supervisors were often afraid to go after them for fear of "ruffling feathers."
That's how B. Madoff got away with what he did for so long. They'd dump all over the smaller firms because they couldn't resist or fight back. They would also pile up insignificant items and turn them into a violation. It's a shame the regulatory organization is killing off their customers. -- B.T.
(And this one.)
John: I am the chief executive and founder of an electronic platform for short sellers. I have over 100 small broker dealers who use our service and over 10,000 users on the platform, which gives me direct communication daily with CEOs, owners and compliance officers of many small [broker dealers].
I have been on Wall Street for 20 years, and I have been running my company for eight. I cannot remember a time when more small broker dealers were so intensively being hounded by regulators.
A significant majority of our users are under continued regulatory scrutiny for minute infractions, occupying the limited human resources these firms have to answer requests for documents and inquiries, stalling business initiatives, technology upgrades and, more importantly, completely hampering any opportunity to raise capital for expansion and ultimately stimulating hiring.
Who can raise money or hire new staff while besieged with SEC and Finra inquiries, audits and examinations? There is a concerted effort out there to force consolidation, regulate all the little guys out so the big boys can capture market share.
I can name for you right now two firms that are close to exiting the broker- dealer business due to the strains of reg ulatory intrusion. And one that re cently got slammed by Finra for nonsense . . . fined $75,000. for a minor recordkeeping violation after a two- year inquiry. -- J.S.

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