June 30, 2009
Dear Securities & Exchange Commission,
I urge the commission to postpone or cancel the Proposed Changes to the Custody Rule which would require random annual audits by public accounting firms of RIA accounts held in custody, including those accounts held by independent third party custodians.
I am a member of the Financial Planning Association and an associate of Foothill Securities, Inc. a Registered Investment Advisor. This proposed rule is an inefficient over-reaction to the Bernie Madoff fraud which will cost the consumer and the professional investment managers of this country vastly more than is warranted. Over thirty percent of my time is currently spent on ongoing compliance activities, even though, due to the decline in the markets and client withdrawals, my income is down over 50% this year. The cost of compliance with this proposed rule would require me to increase my fees by as much as 50% and mean that I could spend perhaps 40 hours less per year meeting with clients and providing them with financial guidance in these turbulent times.
The SEC has already closed the loophole which Bernie Madoff's accountant used to evade detection of fraud by eliminating the exemption of certain accounting firms from registering with the PCOAB.
The most efficient consumer protection comes in increased resources and funding to the SEC to hire and train additional examination staff, so that the SEC can fully investigate tips and indications of fraud. Investigation of the tips received the Commission would have uncovered and stopped the Bernie Madoff fraud much earlier and prevented the loss of billions of dollars to investors.
Please do not burden the legitimate and ethical majority of investment advisors with the excess cost and burden of the proposed rule. You will effectively slam the door on new investment advisors entering the business if the rule goes into effect, and, I believe, you will not substantively increase protection for the public from scammers.
The SEC needs to remain vigilant and proactive in protecting the public from perpetrators of fraud, however, the proposed rule is not the most efficient and effective way to do that.
Paul Drescher, CFP®
Foothill Securities, Inc.