FINRA conference opens with calls to prepare for change

VP Kayte Toczylowki and CEO Robert Cook greet attendees at start of annual gathering in Washington DC.

We cannot predict the future, but we can focus on it and prepare for it. That was the message from Kayte Toczylowski, FINRA’s VP of Member Relations and Education as she introduced the regulator’s sold out annual conference in Washington DC on Tuesday.

The theme of the conference was Future Focused, and Toczylowski said that over the next two and half days we would hear from subject matter experts from the SEC, MSRB, FBI, Treasury, NASAA and of course FINRA to name a few.

Subjects we could learn more from included analytics, customer communications, market structure, cyber and many more besides. The focus was for us to listen, learn and connect.

Count on change

One thing that everyone could count on in an uncertain future was that there was considerable regulatory change, said Toczylowski, and with that thought she welcomed Robert Cook, President and CEO, FINRA.

Cook welcomed everyone and reminded attendees of FINRA’s objective in helping to ensure stronger and more vibrant capital markets.

He acknowledged that his organization and those it regulates have their work cut out because of the volume of change in the industry. This is only made more complicated by the macro and geopolitical shifts that affect markets so profoundly.

Bad actors are creating new ways to ply their own trade, and common innovation offers new products and services that call for adaptive regulatory structure. Technological change is unrelenting and brings its own challenges.

Protection and integrity

Despite all this, investor protection and market integrity remain FINRA’s North Star. These outcomes guide the judgment calls the regulator must make.

Congress codified FINRA as a not-for-profit SRO 85 years ago, and its basis revolves around including the insights and expertise of market participants that comprise what FINRA can now contribute in its role. This participation is evident across the many councils, committees and industry interactions that FINRA provides with its members, but also with other parts of the regulatory ecosystem to include other SROs, exchanges, state and federal regulators.

Cook concluded his welcome remarks by stressing that FINRA is at this event to learn as well, and the avenue of communication between its members and the regulator is of mutual benefit.