FINRA building in New York. (Photo: Ron Pechtimaldjian)

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said Thursday that Susan Axelrod, head of regulatory operations, plans to depart the self-regulator to seek other opportunities in the private sector.

At FINRA for 28 years, including at its predecessor NYSE Regulation, Axelrod will remain in her current post until Jan. 5, 2018, to help with a smooth transition and to continue to implement key organizational initiatives, FINRA said.

She will then assume the role of senior advisor to FINRA CEO Robert Cook through the end of April, continuing to assist in the leadership transition for Regulatory Operations and providing expertise and guidance with respect to a broad range of strategic issues.

FINRA said it would “immediately begin” searching for Axelrod’s successor.

“Susan has been integral to FINRA’s examination and enforcement program over her long and extraordinary career as a regulator, and I am grateful for her many contributions to FINRA and her tireless efforts on behalf of investors,” said Cook in a statement. “From protecting seniors to addressing the rise of cybersecurity risk, Susan has been in the vanguard meeting the many challenges that have confronted investors and the markets in recent years.”

Indeed, Axelrod spearheaded FINRA’s toll-free helpline for seniors to provide them with assistance regarding their brokerage accounts and investments.

As of September, FINRA says it has received more than 1,500 calls on issues including how to find information on their brokers, calls from children of deceased parents trying to locate assets or having difficulty moving assets from a brokerage firm, concerns from seniors ranging from routine poor service complaints and sales practice issues at firms to fraud allegations raised by a senior and/or child on behalf of senior investors.

“During my nearly three decades as a regulator, it has been an honor and privilege to work every day to ensure that investors are protected and markets are operating with integrity,” Axelrod said in the statement. “I am proud to have been part of the talented FINRA team and all that it has accomplished since the organization was founded.”

Axelrod has served as FINRA’s executive vice president for Regulatory Operations since 2013.

Brad Bennett, former head of FINRA enforcement, who’s now a partner at Baker Botts in Washington, told ThinkAdvisor that Axelrod “has a strong record of investor protection. Her departure creates a significant opportunity to rethink the structure of FINRA’s examination functions.”

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