Finra has turned to a former top Securities and Exchange Commission official, Robert W. Cook, to replace the outgoing Richard Ketchum as chief executive.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. on Monday morning said it had tapped Mr. Cook, 50, the former director of the division of trading and markets for the SEC from 2010 to 2013, to succeed Mr. Ketchum effective in July. Finra's board of governors is still searching for a chairman to replace Mr. Ketchum and intends to name a new one in the coming months.
Most recently, Mr. Cook was a partner in the Washington office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. At Cleary Gottlieb, Mr. Cook focused on the regulation of securities markets and market intermediaries, including broker-dealers, exchanges, alternative trading systems and clearing agencies, according to a statement by Finra.
Mr. Cook also directed the SEC's staff's review of equity market structures and its analysis of the so-called "flash crash" of May 2010.
A career securities regulator, Mr. Ketchum has been Finra's chairman and CEO since 2009. He said last fall he intended to retire.
Mr. Cook enters the top role at Finra as the organization is facing criticism and scrutiny. Last month Wall Street critic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., demanded in a letter that Finra do more to protect investors from both advisers who have a history of misconduct and the firms that keep hiring them.
Adviser misconduct continues because of ineffective sanctions for advisers, Ms. Warren wrote in a letter she and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent to Mr. Ketchum.
“Each day that Finra fails to take stronger action is another day that working families will be exposed to an unacceptably high risk of financial adviser misconduct,” they wrote in the letter.
The industry on Monday was swift to praise Mr. Cook.
“Robert is one of our nation's leading securities lawyers and markets experts,” said Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association executive vice president and general counsel Ira Hammerman, in a statement. “He is an excellent choice to lead Finra at this important time and has demonstrated a deep commitment to investor protection during his prior leadership role at the SEC.”