New NASD Job Available --- must have dictionary.

September 22, 2006

I recently learned that NASD is rolling out a new Office of Member Relations --- sadly, it appears that this proposed Office only confirms how wide a chasm separates the NASD bureaucrats and the reform/dissident elements of the NASD member and registered person community.

On September 15, 2006, NASD posted on its Career Opportunities website a job opening for a Director of its new Office of Member Relations (OMR). So as to not be accused of making up some of the tortured language in that notice, I quote directly from the job posting (see italics):

Major Purpose of Job:
The Director, Member Relations, assists the Vice President of Member Relations with all aspects of the department's operations including but not limited to - - - facilitate effective feedback loops between member firms and NASD departments to affect positive change.

Bill Singer's Comment:
As with all bureaucracies, we start off with the simple premise that the more titles there are in a department, the more important the department sounds. So now we have a Director of Member Relations who will assist the Vice President of Member Relations. Given the impressive duties and responsibilities assigned to the Director, what exactly is left for the Vice President to do? Will we soon have a Deputy Director, and an Assistant Deputy Director, and a Deputy Assistant Director, and an Assistant Director to the Deputy Assistant Director?

Then there is the gem! Among the Director's key tasks will be to "facilitate effective feedback loops. . ." When I see prose such as that, I immediately know what's going on. Someone is desperate to make a simple task sound very important and complicated. For godsakes, who the hell talks like that? Certainly no one who has run a broker-dealer on a daily basis. And the Press wonders why there is so much unrest among the NASD's reform/dissident community. Well, what better example could be offered to explain how our regulator drives us crazy? They rarely say what they mean, much less mean what they say. Now we have to interpret something about Fruit Loops.

Essential Job Functions:
The Director serves as ambassador to member firms. . .

Bill Singer's Comment:
An ambassador? Okay, so is this a grudging admission by NASD that they view their members as foreign entities --- not really partners in self-regulation? Worse, the idea of an "ambassador" clearly suggests that this job is about getting out the NASD staff's message, rather than a sincere desire to foster better relationships between the regulator and the regulated.

• Key message development, including identification of key themes to deliver as well as general talking points for NASD senior management

Bill Singer's Comment:
How nice. This newfangled ambassador will be focusing on identifying "key themes" to deliver. Frankly, why not say it plainly? They want this Director to be the NASD's snowblower. Don't the good folks at NASD understand how insulting it is for we in the industry to be reduced to children for whom "general talking points for NASD senior management" must be developed? Is NASD senior management incapable of coming up with their own "general talking points?" Is this a legitimate expense --- to hire someone to identify key themes for NASD execs to talk about? Hey, anyone ever hear of old-fashioned sincerity?

Other Responsibilities:
The Director is also responsible for:
• Preparing, reviewing, monitoring, and providing guidance on written communications to members, including messaging priorities, tone, and delivery mechanism.
• Oversight of tone and messaging delivered at standing and district committee meetings. . .

Bill Singer's Comment:
Oh, great, we have an NASD membership with a growing reform/dissident faction, and NASD thinks that the Director of this Office of Member Relations should be responsible for "messaging priorities, tone, and delivery mechanism." The NASD just saw two of its handpicked nominees for the Board defeated in upset, contested elections last year, and the best they infer from that scenario is someone needs to worry about messaging priorities, tone, and delivery mechanism? Well, someone probably had to get Nero's fiddle for him.

Worse, the Director will also have "oversight of tone and messaging delivered at standing and district committee meetings. . ." Funny, I just can't find any reference to developing "sincere content" to respond to complaints from the industry. I also note that despite this being some member relations department, there is nary a word about delivering messages from the industry to NASD. But, hey, given all the time that will likely be eaten up on such mission-critical tasks (like that phrase?) as "tone" and "delivery mechanism," it's doubtful that this Director will have much time to serve as an ambassador from the industry to the NASD.


I'm sorry. Truly sorry. But this is genuinely frustrating. For over a decade I have floated the idea of an Office of the Industry's Advocate (OIA) at the NASD. You can read more about that The OIA concept has been adopted by the Financial Industry Association as a worthy proposal. Unlike the NASD's Office of Member Relations, OIA is envisioned as an advocate for NASD member firms and registered persons. You would think that NASD would have made a meaningful effort to communicate with me, FIA, and other sincere folks seeking to reform the SRO about the creation of such an important new office as one dealing with member relations. At a minimum, how about sending us a copy of the proposal before you go ahead and hire folks? How about asking for our input?

But, no, some things apparently never change. Then again, there are elections coming up for seats on every NASD District Committee and for the NASD Board. Maybe FIA's slate of candidates will win some of those contested elections. Maybe then we could exchange ambassadors?