FINRA EVP of Regulatory Operations Susan Axelrod announces departure

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that Susan F. Axelrod will leave FINRA for other opportunities in the private sector after 28 years of service at the organization and its predecessor, NYSE Regulation. Axelrod has served as FINRA’s Executive Vice President for Regulatory Operations since 2013, where she has been responsible for leading the Member Regulation program, the Office of Fraud Detection and Market Intelligence, Enforcement, and Shared Services.

Axelrod is expected to remain in her current position until Jan. 5, 2018, to help with a smooth transition and to continue to implement key organizational initiatives. Axelrod will then assume the role of senior advisor to Robert Cook, President and CEO of FINRA, through the end of April. In that capacity, she will continue to assist in the leadership transition for Regulatory Operations and provide expertise and guidance with respect to a broad range of strategic issues. FINRA will immediately begin the search for Axelrod’s successor.

FINRA is dedicated to protecting investors and market integrity, and Susan embodies that unwavering commitment,” said Cook. “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. 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.

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. I am proud to have been part of the talented FINRA team and all that it has accomplished since the organization was founded. I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone I have worked with over the years, including staff, board members, and industry participants. I am also grateful to my family for their incredible support for the time and energy I have dedicated to this important work,” said Axelrod.

As Executive Vice President for Regulatory Operations, Axelrod has led a nationwide team of more than 1,400 people in 14 offices in executing several of FINRA’s core regulatory programs. Under Axelrod’s direction, Regulatory Operations has conducted examinations and investigations of thousands of FINRA member firms and their branches every year, reviewed thousands of potential fraud and insider trading cases, prosecuted numerous firms and salespersons engaged in serious misconduct and won millions of dollars in restitution for harmed investors. Over the years, Axelrod has been a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has represented FINRA in addressing the media on key regulatory issues. She has also guest lectured at several law school and graduate business classes.

Major initiatives under Axelrod’s leadership have included:

  • The development and implementation of the Securities Helpline for Seniors, which to date has fielded more than 11,000 calls and helped investors recover $4.7 million.
  • The establishment of FINRA’s High-Risk Representative program, which is dedicated to identifying and addressing brokers that may pose an increased risk to investors. Since the program’s inception, hundreds of such individuals have been barred from the industry by FINRA or are no longer registered with any member firm.
  • The development and implementation of a unified risk hierarchy that now forms the basis for all of FINRA’s regular surveillance and examination of member firms.
  • The consolidation and expansion of FINRA’s efforts to address cybersecurity risks, including the first comprehensive report by a financial regulator on cybersecurity practices in the broker dealer industry, new tools to aid in member firms’ cybersecurity efforts, and the development of an advanced cybersecurity training and examination program.
  • The establishment of an Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Investigative Unit to conduct examinations where highly complex or novel money-laundering and AML compliance program concerns exist.
  • The establishment of specialized teams to conduct examinations and address issues unique to the fixed income markets.
  • The creation and implementation of the risk control assessment, which helps inform FINRA’s exam planning by collecting information from firms on a voluntary basis about the risks and controls associated with their business models, the products and services they sell, and the kinds of clients and counterparties with which they deal.
  • The establishment of relationships and the execution of bilateral agreements between FINRA and key domestic and international regulatory partners to enhance the oversight of firms operating across borders.
  • The creation of the FINRA Women’s Leadership Forum, an annual event where FINRA employees have the opportunity to hear from leaders in financial services, consulting, private equity, and government regarding their experiences, lessons learned, and career advice in their respective areas of practice.

Before assuming her current position, Axelrod served in senior roles at FINRA responsible for several of the organization’s core regulatory oversight functions. Prior to joining FINRA in 2007, Axelrod was Chief of Staff to the CEO of NYSE Regulation, where her responsibilities included overseeing operations on a day to day basis and acting as a liaison with various business areas, including finance, human resources, government relations, and communications. In that role, Axelrod played a key role in the consolidation of NASD and NYSE Regulation.

Axelrod began her career at NYSE in 1989 as a staff attorney in the division of enforcement and became an enforcement director in 1997. Among the cases she handled were those involving specialist and floor broker misconduct, insider trading, upstairs trading, sales practice violations, and financial and operational compliance issues. She received her J.D. from the Hofstra University School of Law in 1989 and her B.A. from Emory University in 1986.

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FINRA EVP of Regulatory Operations Susan Axelrod announces departure

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