July 27, 2009
I am writing to voice my opinion regarding the proposed amendments to Rule 206(4)-2, the Custody Rule. Like most Investment Advisory Firms, my firm custodies its assets at a qualified custodian, and has custody only through its ability to debit fees directly from client accounts. Our clients receive statements directly from the custodian, and those statements show the deduction of the advisory fee.
Adding this burden of an independent surprise audit to firms such as mine, which have no access to client funds except through fee collection, will do nothing to enhance investor confidence or the safety of investor funds, and would be a significant additional cost. I have worked hard to build an ethical business with high compliance standards, and do not see that anything will be gained by having this additional audit completed. If the Commission feels that there is a significant risk of money being embezzled from client accounts through the deduction of custodial fees then I would suggest that the rule be changed to not allow fee withdrawals exceeding a certain percentage (say 3%) to be deducted from a client account. I believe that an adjustment such as this would be much more cost effective, catch any problems earlier, and be much more cost effective than an annual surprise audit, particularly since some custodians already have this rule in place.
In addition, I would like to comment that defining the ability to deduct management fees from a person’s account as “custody” is a bit of a stretch, because I have never seen where a company in other industries such at T-Mobile or any other company who is authorized to deduct my monthly bill from my bank account is considered to have “custody”. If the ability to deduct fees from an account is considered custody in one industry, it should be the same in all industries.
Michael Ball, CFP®
Mutual Asset Management, Inc.