July 1, 2009
My name is Matthew Chope and I am a member of the Financial Planning Association and IAR representative of a SEC-registered investment adviser. I am writing today to share my opposition and concern regarding the requirement in the proposed amendments to the custody rule that would subject investment advisers to a surprise audit by an accounting firm. Moreover, the proposed surprise audit appears to be more of a political reaction to public criticism of the SEC and congressional pressure after the Madoff scandal than an effective regulatory response. The SEC already resolved one of the major problems with the custody rule, which was eliminating a loophole from registration for certain accounting firms with the PCAOB that Madoff's accountant used to avoid detection of its phony auditing practices.
The Ponzi schemes uncovered by the SEC had nothing to do with fees deducted by investment advisers. As far as I am aware, there have been no systemic problems in this area and are unnecessary, costly and burdensome, particularly for small, independent investment advisers such as ours. The new surprise audit requirement will add additional costs to my business that will ultimately need to be passed on to my clients. More importantly, this will take my time away from helping clients plan for financial security.
Unfortunately the proposed amendments, while well intentioned, do not address the concerns the SEC is seeking to address.
Matthew E. Chope, CFP®
Center for Financial Planning, Inc.