Feb. 16, 2004
Jonathan G. Katz
Comment to: Release Nos. 33-8349; 34-48952; IC-26313; File No. S7-29-03
Dear Mr. Katz:
Thank you for taking comment on this release. The Commission is to be commended for addressing such an important issue. I am an investor and a journalist who has covered the retail brokerage industry for a number of years.
Many of the complicated disclosure regimes contemplated in the release are unnecessary if the SEC simply banned directed brokerage (when used in exchange for distribution), soft dollars, and similar practices that cause profound conflicts. Disclosure of these commission and trading costs then becomes moot. I support the SEC's current efforts in banning directed brokerage and similar practices that create conflicts that cannot be adequately regulated.
In any case, a full accounting and public disclosure (and possibly point-of-sale, etc. disclosure) of all known costs paid out of fund assets must be ensured. Investors have a right to know all costs and conflicts.
Some of the cost items described in the release are theoretical, and disclosing such estimates would simply confuse investors. In any event, these costs directly affect fund performance, so investors are not completely in the dark about these theoretical costs; and advisers who of course want good performance records have an incentive to minimize trading.