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Retirely in The things you own end up owning you,

What FINRA’s CEO shuffle reveals about its waning viability as the self-funded fox guarding the investor henhouse

As Richard Ketchum departs amid fulsome praise, FINRA’s failed bid to make RIAs ‘rules based’ combined with member unrest leave the SRO in deep dilemma mode.

As Richard Ketchum winds down his seven-year tenure as CEO and chairman of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., his legacy is more than secure — it positively glows. Whether it glows like sunshine or a nuclear meltdown is open for debate.

“There is no one in the industry I have more respect for than Rick Ketchum,” says Pat Armstrong, current governor of the Securities Traders Association Inc. and former executive floor governor of the NYSE. “He is what people in the business aspire to be. He’s been the one person to pick up the pieces in this incredibly complex environment during one of the most challenging times in finance. He’s the guy who’ll be reading messages on his cell phone during a meeting and not miss a single word. I believe they had to find two people to do his job. He’s that good.”

Bradley Bondi of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP chimes in: “Rick is extremely knowledgeable about the industry and legal matters. He’s thoughtful, personable. He cuts right to the chase. At that level, you have to be decisive. He has a gift of getting to the bottom of issues with diplomacy.”

And Lewis Lowenfels, a prominent securities lawyer and co-author of the seven-volume legal treatise Bromberg & Lowenfels on Securities Fraud, offers an attorney’s highest recommendation: “Rick has done a very good job. He’s very practical in his approach — not theoretical. He’s tough, but fair. I wouldn’t mind if he were a judge for one of my cases.”

“There is a clear lack of leadership at FINRA. If you know what you are doing, you hire someone and move on. If you don’t, you hedge bets with two hires,” he says. “With the pending DOL Fiduciary rule lingering, this is the biggest period of uncertainty that we’ve ever seen. FINRA is overseeing a dying world. Its only incentive is to slow down regulation.”