January 18, 2005
My understanding is that the SEC has published a rule that continues to allow fee-based brokerage programs to offer financial planning and other advisory services without registering as Registered Investment Advisors until April 15, 2005. Subsequently, I believe the proposed final rule would expand the disclosure requirements for brokerage firms using fee-based programs so that broker-dealers that hold themselves out as a financial planners or as providing financial planning services would not be exempt from adviser registration.
This is a step in the right direction, BUT I encourage the SEC to withdraw the exemption altogether so that unless the Broker/Dealer clearly and unequivocally states that it is acting solely in the capacity of providing transaction services and is NOT giving any type of financial advice, that they would be subject to registration with the SEC as Investment Advisors.
As one concerned about how the public is served by those providing financial advice, and as one concerned about how much confidence the public can have in such advice, I think that clarity is critical in defining who is and who is not bound in the fiduciary relationship that such registration mandates.
Please act in the public interest and withdraw the exemption rule altogether, or tighten it significantly to allow fewer exceptions to those who must register.