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

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has stepped up efforts to diversify its pool of arbitrators over the past two years, newly released data show, and its efforts are slowly and steadily showing results.

Female arbitrators now comprise 25% of the total arbitrator pool, and representation of other minorities is growing as well.

The newly released 2017 data on the arbitrator pools’ diversity shows a small increase in several categories. Nearly 600 new arbitrators were added between October 2016 and October 2017.

For instance, of the new arbitrators added in from October 2016 to October 2017, 35% were women, up from 33% a year earlier and 26% two years earlier.

New arbitrators added last year of African-American descent stood at 15%, bringing their total to 6% in the 7,304-member arbitration pool. In the year ending in 2015, 4% of new arbitrators were African-American.

Two percent of the total pool of arbitrators are Asian, with 4% of new arbitrators added in 2017 being Asian.

Of the arbitrators added in 2017, 1% were American Indian or Alaskan and 4% were multiracial.

FINRA published data on the diversity of its arbitrator pool on its website for the first time last September after receiving complaints that its panels were skewed toward older men and that transparency on arbitrators’ backgrounds was lacking.

In sharing the findings, FINRA states that it “strives to provide transparency about the current makeup of our arbitrator roster.”

In 2017, FINRA “saw increases in the women, African-American, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native and multiracial categories,” adding that while the broker-dealer regulator is “encouraged by these short-term results and incremental progress made, we recognize this is a long-term effort.

“There is more progress to make and we remain fully committed toward achieving our diversity goals,” FINRA added.

To track FINRA’s progress, the SRO hired a third-party consultant to survey — on an anonymous and voluntary basis  — the demographics of the arbitrators on its roster in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The number of arbitrators aged 70 or older increased to 18% in 2017 from 15% in 2016, while the percentage of arbitrators aged 60 or younger dropped to 51% in 2017 from 54% in 2016.

The 2017 survey separately polled FINRA mediators for the first time. The statistics below for the entire mediator roster also includes mediators who are arbitrators. 







70 or older




60 or younger







Spanish, Hispanic or Latino






American Indian or Alaska Native


LGBT Status


— Check out FINRA Releases FAQ on Elder Exploitation Rules on ThinkAdvisor.