July 6, 2009
This is knee-jerk reaction to much of what has transpired over the course of the past year. The regulatory pendulum swings yet too far in the opposite direction and as a result, the prudent middle ground is hardly taken or considered.
The vast majority of financial service institutions, including investment advisers, are dedicated to their clients and take fiduciary responsibilities seriously. There is a system to audit advisors and perhaps that should be enhanced so as not to be overwhelmed by numbers. More importantly, the regulatory system should have internal checks and balances so that analytical anomalies can be fleshed out and not glossed over. (Madoff?)
The custodians, such as TD Ameritrade, have built in safeguards with respect to direct debiting client accounts. Periodic fees over a certain percentage of net asset value are limited to a reasonably small percent. Any fee above that percentage will be reviewed before it is accepted.
Another safeguard against over-charging, and I presume this is what the issue is about (versus a ponzi scheme) is that fees are contained on each respective statement from the custodian. The client sees just how much he (she) is debited.
In a nutshell, this proposal is a shotgun blast with the hopes of hitting something, anything, and will not further protect the individual investor. Rather, it will only serve to over-burden the honest adviser with additional administrative and dollar costs.
Regulation needs to be specific, surgical and, above all, followed through within itself.