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FINRA Launches Innovation Outreach Initiative

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced Tuesday that it has established an Innovation Outreach Initiative in an effort to better understand how advances in financial technology affect the industry.

The initiative includes a Blockchain Symposium in New York on July 13. FINRA representatives, regulators and industry leaders like James O’Neill, vice president of operations at Fidelity Investments; John Zecca, senior vice president of MarketWatch and head of market regulation in the U.S. for Nasdaq; and Todd McDonald, co-founder of the R3 blockchain consortium.

“FINRA has long been engaged in discussions about fintech issues with member firms and other key stakeholders. The Innovation Outreach Initiative will enable us to better track fintech developments across the rapidly changing industry environment in order to support innovation in the industry while maintaining investor protection and market integrity,” Robert Cook, FINRA president and CEO, said in a statement.

(Related: Robert Cook — BD Regulator in Chief: The 2017 IA 25)

The new initiative is an extension of FINRA’s growing focus on fintech. The agency launched a website with resources to help financial professionals understand emerging fintech areas like distributed ledgers and digital advice.

FINRA is also using the website to collect information from advisors on how soon technologies like regtech, artificial intelligence and social media sentiment investing are likely to impact their firms.

FINRA’s new Office of Emerging Regulatory Issues will be responsible for carrying out the initiative. Some of the new team’s specific functions, according to FINRA, include:

  • Creating a Fintech Industry Committee to facilitate a continuous discussion on fintech developments and how FINRA’s rules and programs interact with technology innovations
  • Conducting regional roundtables to provide a forum for market participants (including FINRA members and nonmembers) to discuss fintech topics
  • Developing timely publications on fintech topics, such as the increased adoption of regulatory technology applications and how this may impact the securities industry;  
  • Enhancing existing internal processes to effectively communicate with the industry, including staff training  
  • Increasing collaboration with other regulators, both domestically and internationally

 — Read How Much Traction Do Robo Hybrids Have With Investors? on ThinkAdvisor.