For the first time, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on Tuesday morning published data on the diversity of its arbitrator pool on its website. The move comes after complaints that FINRA panels were skewed toward older men and that transparency on arbitrators’ backgrounds was lacking.
The information is available on a new section of FINRA’s website: Our Commitment to Achieving Arbitrator and Mediator Diversity at FINRA.
In 2014, FINRA appointed an arbitration task force to its securities arbitration forum to suggest ways to improve the self-regulator’s transparency, impartiality and efficiency. Richard Berry, FINRA’s head of Dispute Resolution, has made launching such an online resource a top priority, FINRA said.
FINRA wants to “show we are committed to making steady progress in this area,” Berry said, noting the “significant short-term progress” in recruiting African-Americans and women.
Of those arbitrators who joined the roster in 2016, 14% were African-American and 33% were women (in 2015, 4% were African-American and 26% were women).
“While we are encouraged by these short-term results and incremental progress made, we recognize this is a long-term effort,” Berry added. “There is more progress to make and we remain fully committed toward achieving our diversity goals.”
The new web page will be updated annually with yearly survey results from Aon Hewitt, according to FINRA.
In 2016, FINRA recruited 945 arbitrator applicants, surpassing its goal of 750.
As it stands now, there are more than 7,200 arbitrators on FINRA’s roster.