August 23, 2010
Comment Letter to SEC
RE: File No: 4-606
Dear Ms. Murphy:
I am a financial planner and a Registered Investment Adviser with Bayhill Advisors Inc, servicing about 250 clients and about $14 million under management. We are a small advisory firm serving the needs of middle class Americans. We have been providing this service under a fiduciary standard of care since 2000. Contrary to what one hears and reads in the financial press, we strongly believe that such care needs to be practiced for all clients, big and small. We dont approach our clients primarily as income generators: we can be fiduciaries to high-income-generating clients but don't need to apply this principle to those who have more modest means. If one listens to the management soundings from US brokerage community (not only the large brokerages but also small, independent ones) one should simply provide trading and minimal care to smaller accounts while pretending that they look after the interests of all of their clients.
We should not be confusing the investing public. As it stands right now, there is no way of knowing if one is getting a competent advice or simply a sale. I strongly urge you to extend the Advisers Act fiduciary standard of care to all financial professionals who provide personalized investment advice to retail clients.
I will go a step more. I believe the commission-based compensation structure is inherently in conflict with client interests and wrong in financial services. It is also one of the reasons why clients retain a questionable idea of the services we provide. I realize SEC cannot dictate which business model a financial services firm uses but making fiduciary standard uniform will go a long way.