August 30, 2004
The public needs greater transparency and full disclosure with the nature of any engagement with any financial planning professional. By full disclosure and transparency, the consumers will know the answers to questions like What is the nature of the relationship? Is it strictly transactionalonly selling stocks or mutual funds, or is it an advice-based relationship account? How is the financial planning professional being compensated? Are there professional standards you must uphold? Are you required to put my interest as a consumer ahead of your own? Are there any conflicts of interest that exist for the financial planner?
None of these standards exist under the SECs current rule.
In addition to that, this rule would permit broker-dealers to do principal transactions without disclosure which is selling products out of a firms inventory where there might be additional revenue generated for the representative while giving the impression of acting as a fiduciary adviser.
In a time when the public has clearly voiced its concern and expressed its frustrations in demanding greater clarity and disclosure from financial institutions, this is in full step with what consumers are demanding.
By exempting brokers from the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, the rule were contesting actually creates an uneven playing field. Financial planning professionals who abide by high practice standards are being put at a disadvantage versus another group of advisers who are attempting to be exempted from those standards.
It is the publics has a right to know about the disciplinary history, conflicts of interest and qualifications of their financial planners. This is not about compensation. It is about restoring professional standards and the integrity of the Advisers Act.