August 16, 2010
To eliminate, or at least reduce, the confusion retail customers have in seeking investment advisers or brokers/dealers, simplify the bullets noted in the nation's Yellow Pages. Currently, there are bullets in my local edition called "Investment Advisory Service," "Investment Management," "Investment Securities" (not to be confused with "Stock and Bond Brokers"), and "Investments." In case they left anyone out, there are also bullets entitled "Financial Planners," "Financial Planning Consultants Services," and "Financial Services" (again, not to be confused with "Financing" and "Financing Consultants"). When I asked a telephone company representative the difference between these bullets, she hung up on me in ten minutes in frustration. You can imagine what the general public is going through when they open their Yellow Pages to these areas.
Only a Federal agency like the SEC can take on a phone company to get this done. In the 1980's, it took me ten months of discussions (fighting?) to create a new bullet entitled "Investment Advisor Referral Service," my last effort being a letter to the president of the telephone company stating why this new bullet was needed. I got it (I was the first), but they changed "Referral" to "Referring" within two years and eliminated the bullet entirely within another two years due to a lack of other entrants under that bullet. But, boy, the calls I got while it existed.
When I requested information from local investment advisors about their business to establish my database, they didn't like an intruder. When I informed them I could possibly bring them new clients, they talked my head off.
The public needs help, and all those different bullets in the Yellow Pages aren't helping.
One other little request. In the interests of full disclosure, revise Part II of your Form ADV in such a way that it is available to the public on your website. Surely not all the information on it is confidential. Perhaps the Form ADV should be revised as well during this study of brokers, dealers and investment advisers.