FINRA has named a new chief hearing officer for disciplinary actions in the wake of Linda Fienberg’s planned resignation from the regulator later this year.

Andrew H. Perkins was promoted to take over from Fienberg, according to FINRA spokeswoman Michelle Ong. Fienberg, 72, filled the role in addition to being the head of arbitration at the regulator. She announced earlier this month that she plans to resign from both posts in November.

Ong informed On Wall Street about the Perkins promotion after several calls were made to the agency inquiring about a successor to Fienberg. Perkins joined the regulator as a hearing officer in 1996, and was promoted to deputy chief hearing officer, his most recent title, in 2008.

The promotion settles the question of whether one FINRA employee would continue to oversee both disciplinary and arbitration cases, as Fienberg did throughout her 18 years at the agency.

Fienberg's other role, as president of the agency's dispute resolutions unit, is still open. As FINRA continues its search for a successor, according to Ong, the regulator is only considering internal candidates for the role.

A general consensus among industry players is that two senior FINRA officials stand out as potential candidates: Richard W. Berry, senior vice president and director of case administration and regional office services for FINRA's dispute resolution unit; and Kenneth L. Andrichik, a senior vice president, chief counsel and director of mediation and strategy for the dispute resolution unit.

Any new head of arbitration will be challenged to continue the growth and achievements that Fienberg brought to the role, says David Ruder, former chairman of the SEC and author of a 1996 commission report on securities arbitration reform that included Fienberg. “Over the years, Linda really was wonderful in her administration of FINRA arbitration,” Ruder says. 

Richard P. Ryder, a former director of arbitration who preceded Fienberg -- when FINRA was known as the National Association of Securities Dealers -- echoes Ruder’s assessment of the FINRA executive.

Ryder adds that a replacement will need to address several issues in the dispute process. Among them, he says, is providing brokers more of a level playing field in arbitration matters.

“The broker has been a voice without a constituency when it comes to arbitration,” says Ryder, current editor and publisher of Securities Arbitration Commentator, a monthly newsletter.

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