Broker watchdog to change its name

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A name chosen to represent the merger of two major U.S. brokerage watchdogs will be changed because the acronym may be considered offensive due to its similarity to an Arabic term.

The Securities Industry Regulatory Authority, or SIRA, was the name that had been announced to represent the combination of NASD and NYSE Regulation.

SIRA, which will be regulator for all securities brokers and dealers doing business with the public in the United States, is now considering the name Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA.

When NASD chairman Mary Schapiro announced the name SIRA at a luncheon in June, she was not aware that it “could create confusion or be considered offensive because of its similarity to an Arabic term used to refer to the traditional biographies of Muhammad.”

“Because of this feedback, we determined that it was appropriate to select the alternative name of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, for our new organization,” she wrote in a note to NASD employees.

Schapiro said that NASD values and respects the diversity of its employees, member firms and the wider community of investors that it serves.

“We operate in a global, multi-racial, multi-religion environment, and we strive to be sensitive and respectful to all,” she said.

“To remain true to that spirit, we have decided that selecting the alternative name for our new organization is simply the right thing to do.”

NASD and NYSE Regulation are waiting for regulatory approval to close the transaction.