FINRA President and CEO Robert W. Cook spoke about his ongoing “Listening Tour”, new initiatives, and the recent publication of FINRA’s Annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter (the “Priorities Letter”) at the SIFMA Compliance & Legal Society’s Monthly Luncheon held in New York, NY, on January 10, 2017.

The Priorities Letter provides information about areas that FINRA plans to review in the upcoming year, and Cook explained that FINRA would continue to focus on core “blocking and tackling” issues of compliance, supervision and risk management.

The bulk of Mr. Cook’s presentation centered on observations from his ongoing “Listening Tour” with member firms, investor groups, and other regulators. As he described it, the meetings were designed as forums for him to hear opinions from interested parties on FINRA’s strengths and areas for improvement because “listening to and working with market participants are fundamental features of the self-regulatory model.” Based on the outcome of these meetings, Mr. Cook said he intended to take a fresh look at how FINRA interacts and engages with members day-to-day, and how FINRA promotes transparency to its members, other stakeholders, and the investing public.

Mr. Cook discussed the fundamentals of FINRA’s governance and the rulemaking process and how they each relate to the engagement and transparency initiatives. He described the many different ways that FINRA interacts with its members and the public in the rulemaking process, including consultation with advisory committees and the public submission of proposals to the Board of Governors. He also identified opportunities for further involvement by members and the public in the public comment phase of the rulemaking process. Mr. Cook concluded that FINRA’s governance structure and rulemaking process demonstrates FINRA’s efforts to foster transparency and engagement, and that his listening tour will hopefully illuminate ways that FINRA can improve.

The full transcript of Mr. Cook’s speech can be found here: http://www.finra.org/newsroom/speeches/011017-remarks-sifma-compliance-and-legal-society