August 24, 2004
I oppose the proposed new rule to exempt broker/dealers from certain registration requirements. My main grounds for opposition lie in the fact that I have been unable to see any way in which this rule would help or protect the investing public. As I believe it is the SECs duty to aid and protect the investing public, I also believe it is the SECs duty not to pass rules that do not serve the public good.
While I applaud the brokerage industrys move toward fee oriented solutions, I do not think this proposed rule is a necessary or appropriate step in that direction. Having worked as a registered representative of a major broker/dealer for 5 years, I realize that it is in the short term best interest of broker/dealers to blur the line between sales and advice. The business of a broker/dealer is to take advantage of the publics inability to distinguish between sales and advice, and to provide only such advice incidental to the sale of securities. Allowing b/ds to deliver ria-like services without the disclosure and fiduciary requirements will only serve to further confuse and potentially mislead the investing public.
The bottom line is that anyone providing services that the public will reasonably assume to be investment advisory services, which would certainly be the case with the brokerage accounts referenced in the proposed rule, should be regulated as if they were providing investment advisory services. The advantage to broker/dealers of implementing this exception is obvious. I struggle to find any advantage to the public, and therefore I feel it is the obligation of the SEC not to pass this rule.