In Their Own Words: Interview with National Adjudicatory Council (NAC) Member Chris Brummer

FINRA's Chairman and CEO, Rick Ketchum, has cited Prof. Brummer's work on the NAC as "extremely important to FINRA" and that "by lending his expertise to service on the NAC, Chris is making a significant contribution to an effective disciplinary process and to advancing FINRA's mission of investor protection."

In this interview, Prof. Brummer describes the NAC's role in protecting investors and his views about this very important public service role.

1. Prof. Brummer, can you share with us your perspective on the NAC—and your role in it?
The NAC is a critical oversight mechanism in FINRA’s operations. As a not-for-profit organization empowered by Congress to regulate broker-dealers and exchanges, FINRA brings disciplinary actions against those believed to have violated key rules, like committing fraud or market abuse. The NAC is FINRA’s appellate body for reviewing any disciplinary decisions members would like to contest. Comprised of representatives with backgrounds in industry, the academe and law, the NAC is charged with hearing the appeals of disciplined FINRA members, and making a determination as to whether initial decisions should be upheld or overturned. As such, the NAC is the final decision of FINRA.

As a member of the NAC, I am one of 14 individuals who rotate on occasion to hear varying cases on appeal. Usually two members are charged with responsibility for each disciplinary matter, and they provide guidelines and edits for FINRA decisions; draft decisions are then presented to the entire NAC in our periodic meetings. At that point all NAC members provide their perspective, make edits and vote whether or not to uphold the new draft.   
2. Please tell us why you find your role on the NAC rewarding.
In playing this role, the NAC—and the individuals on it—are deeply involved in the task of investor protection. I get to work alongside many highly intelligent, capable professionals, and like my colleagues work hard to apply law to the facts. It involves being as fair and understanding as possible, but also recognizing that there are serious threats to market integrity and to the investing public that must be addressed fearlessly and vigorously.  One of the challenges going forward will be tackling these challenges in an Internet age, and pursuing scurrilous actors seeking to defraud investors and undermine investor confidence with increasingly sophisticated technological tools.
3. How did you become involved with the NAC?
One of the great joys of being a Georgetown law professor is that even when you teach, you always have the opportunity to put theory into practice, and to serve the public in a number of ways. Given my experience and expertise in securities regulation, NAC membership was suggested to me by a number of colleagues at Georgetown, and after my name was brought to FINRA staff and leadership, I shared my interest in assisting. Two years into my three year term, here I am today.
4. How does your background/experience help you fulfill your responsibilities on the NAC?
I’ve had the enormous fortune to have a wide array of experiences that, I hope, help me think through disciplinary matters in a fair and rigorous way.  I’ve worked as a deal lawyer in New York and London with Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, taught hundreds of talented students securities regulation at Vanderbilt and Georgetown Law, and spent time working at the SEC’s Office of International Affairs as a fellow during the financial crisis. More recently, I’ve also worked at a number of think tanks grappling with 21st century challenges of financial regulation—from cross border governmental cooperation to the challenges technological innovation and more efficient capital access. I’d like to think that these quite diverse experiences help me make informed and competent decisions.   

Prof. Brummer is internationally recognized as a leading expert in financial regulation. In addition to his service on the NAC, he is a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.  He earned his law degree from Columbia Law School, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Prof. Brummer was appointed to the NAC in 2013.