A Message From ROBERT KEENAN,Candidate for FINRA Small Firm Governor

July 8, 2016

A personal message from Bill Singer, Publisher of the BrokeAndBroker.com Blog. 

I recently posted "Support ROBERT MUH For FINRA Small Firm Governor" (BrokeAndBroker.com Blog, July 5, 2016), in which I set out the case for a more meaningful and representative role for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") small firm community; urged the small firm membership to support qualified, sincere, and committed candidates for elective office at the self-regulatory authority; and expressed my support for Robert Muh's election as 2016 FINRA Small Firm Governor. In response to the July 5th article, I received a letter from another candidate, Robert Keenan, who is seeking re-election as a 2016 FINRA Small Firm Governor.
Robert Keenan and I had an excellent telephone conversation in which we introduced ourselves and discussed our views concerning FINRA's small firm community. Although Robert and I disagree on substantial aspects pertaining to the fairness and efficacy of FINRA's current organizational and Board structure (see his comments below), there are many other areas where we concur. In particular, we found ourselves in agreement on the need to cultivate fair-and-effective regulation that does not fall disproportionately upon smaller member firms. I look forward to working with Robert in the future and making common cause. 

The FINRA small firm community now has two very capable, sincere, dedicated, veteran candidates for the 2016 FINRA Small Firm Governor seat. Get to know your candidates. Make your vote and voice count! 

In response to my offer to post an unedited message from Robert Keenan to BrokeAndBroker.com Blog readers, he offered the following: 

My name is Robert Keenan. I am completing my first term as a Small Firm Governor on FINRA's Board and I am running for reelection. I am 100% owner of St Bernard Financial Services, Inc., a firm I started in 1994 on a kitchen table with a used computer and borrowed software. St Bernard is a retail firm with 53 Reps in 14 states. I am the CEO, CCO, Muni Principal, FinOP, Sales Supervisor, Janitor, and a top 10 producer for my firm. Of the two opponents I have so far, neither one of them has the qualifications I just listed. And I have served on the District Committee, been a panelist for FINRA, and have been a Hearing Officer on several disciplinary cases.

To take your article to heart, FINRA's 3,571 small firms compose 92% of the membership but have only 10.2% of the producing Reps. The industry members on FINRA's Board are a balance between member firms and member's producing Reps - 92% firms (small firms) vs 89% Reps (large firms). And for your information - of the 3,571 small firms, around 2,000 have less than 10 Reps and 1,000 have less than 5 Reps. 50% of FINRA's member firms gross annual revenue is less than $1 million. The non-industry Governors have a better understanding of this business than they appear to have due to the fact that many are, or were, in the industry at some point in their careers.

And to further take you article to heart, when I walked into my first Board meeting in September of 2013, I was the only person in the room that was writing trade tickets. That is not true now as the other two Small Firm Governors are producing Reps as well as owners of their firm. I don't know if my opponents are producing Reps.

I spent a lot of my time at the meetings explaining to the non-industry Governors how rules affect small firms and the unintended consequences of the rules being proposed. When I first got on the Board, the other Small Firm Governors were compliance attorneys with no field experience, and it showed. Their contributions were shouting and they never accomplished a thing. I have been fairly successful having rules modified, or in the case of CARDS, killed. I'm running for reelection because I have been effective.

Call me anytime - 479-967-1200

Robert Keenan, CEO
St Bernard Financial Services, Inc.