October 11, 2010
Dear Ms. Schapiro:
As Financial Advisors, we realize that you have a daunting task in guiding the financial industry while best serving the needs of the public. Amid this Madoff Era, we are indeed living in tumultuous and challenging times.
It is my hope that you and your staff are reading the comments my colleagues and I have submitted. The majority are well meaning, sincere and, may I say, very accurate. To say the least, the proposal to eliminate the 12b-1 has struck a nerve in our industry. We feel as advisors that neither you nor your research staff has little empathy with regard to our plight. With no disrespect intended, can you answer in the affirmative whether you or your colleagues have had fiduciary experience working with small investors over 5 years? Over 10 years? If so, you would realize the vast amount of turmoil and discord this proposals adoption invites.
Eliminating advisors compensation for ongoing guidance provided to the small investor is not the answer to problem(s) you are attempting to solve. While advisors agree that fee disclosure is necessary, capping or tethering compensation to a 4 or 5 year term is short-sighted and defeats the investor/advisor long term relationship. Does the SEC expects service and advice be provided to the investor free or nearly free of charge after as little as 4 or 5 years? Please know that my clients have chosen the C-share structure because they've indicated that they will need my advice over the long haul. They've felt that my compensation (1%) was fair and embraced the fact that our mutual success was intertwined. This system works as my client retention rate is over 90%, having weathered some of the most severe market conditions our industry has faced.
The 12b-1 is a lifeline to both investor and advisor in that the guidance we provide to our clients is acknowledged through performance based compensation, a proven and time honored business model. Enacting this proposal will bring the unintended consequences of increased investor uncertainty and confusion, poor investment performance, increased fees and eventual financial hardship for both the small investor and advisor.
Sincerely and with best wishes,
Tedd J. Hoyt