July 1, 2009
As an Independent, Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisor, I’m writing to let you know of my STRONG opposition to the pending discussions relating to the above referenced regulation which would require an annual, surprise audit of my firm. I have nothing to hide and welcome unplanned, surprise audits by the SEC however, requiring an additional annual audit just because our clients fees are automatically deducted from each clients accounts, is in my opinion a political OVEREACTION to the Madoff Scam. Any, and all transactions, INCLUDING FEES, are shown and spelled out as a separate line item on each statement my clients receive from a THIRD PARTY CUSTODIAN.
If we were not using an Independent, Third Party Custodian to hold our clients assets and instead served as a custodian ourselves, that would be much different. But tell me, if we use a Third Party Custodian for the security of our clients assets (which show a line item in simple English our quarterly fees), how could we possibly manipulate or hide anything???? That’s the exact reason why we use a separate, third party custodian for everything. And in fact, if the Madoff victims would have followed this very simple, but yet prudent requirement, the ongoing statements they received would have been much different than the ones prepared by the Madoff offices.
Finally, I don’t believe we need MORE rules, with less people to then be available to enforce them but rather more individuals working for the SEC to enforce the existing rules. If the SEC had been informed on numerous occasions that something really “smelled” at the Madoff offices, why didn’t just one time people from the SEC insist upon Madoffs people showing all of the securities they were “supposedly” holding as the custodian? It seems to me that this would have uncovered MUCH and could have perhaps avoided much of the pain his investors have had to experience.
Please continue to look for ways to enhance transparency, encourage the use of Third Party Independent Custodians, but please don’t put another major financial burden on the backs of Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisory firms who have agreed in writing to our clients to serve as a Fiduciary. The more costs we will incur as a result of unnecessary political reactions, the more costs we will have to pass on to our clients. I urge you, and kindly ask that you do not implement these proposed requirements.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.