July 24, 2009
Dear Sir or Madam:
The investment firm I am employed by is an SEC-registered investment advisor. I wanted to express my opposition to the requirements in the proposed amendments to the custody rule that would subject investment advisers to a surprise audit by an independent accounting firm. 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. Furthermore, 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 Madoff and other Ponzi schemes resulted from a lack of aggressive enforcement by the SEC and FINRA of current rules and ignoring repeated warnings from the media and whistle blowers. The SEC should hold FINRA accountable for its shared oversight of Bernie Madoff in conducting the Ponzi scheme for decades as a broker-dealer before registering two years ago as an investment adviser. The Ponzi schemes uncovered by the SEC had nothing to do with fees deducted by investment advisers. As far as we are aware, there have been no systemic problems in this area and are unnecessary, costly and burdensome, particularly for small, independent investment advisers.
The new surprise audit requirement will add additional costs to our business that will ultimately be passed on to our clients. It goes without saying we are in extremely challenging times with respect managing our clients assets. Although we highly value the importance of our compliance program these new rules would direct attention away from our client service efforts when they are needed most. In order to enhance consumer protection, I would support Congress appropriating additional resources to the SEC to hire and train additional examination staff to increase the regular audit cycle of investment advisers.
Thank you in advance for your consideration in this matter.
Scott R. Snyder, CFA, CFP®, CIMA
EVP - Investment Consulting Group
Newton One Advisors