Mr. Jonathan G. Katz
Securities and Exchange Commission
450 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20549-0609
Re: Release Nos. 34-42099 and IA-1845; File No. S7-25-99; Certain Broker Dealers Deemed Not To Be Investment Advisers
I am an independent, fee and commission financial advisor and president of a small Broker-Dealer firm in Oklahoma City, OK. Access Financial Resources, Inc. is currently registered as an investment advisor with the Oklahoma Department of Securities, and Access Investments, Inc. is a member of the NASD.
I am writing you today to register my objection and opposition to the proposal to exempt brokerage firms from registering as registered investment advisory firms under those certain circumstances defined in the above-styled release.
This proposed rule clearly blurs the distinction between financial advisers who are working solely in the best interests of their clients, and brokers who, with the generous help of very slick advertising campaigns, appear to be making the same offer, but are instead
(in the widely-used industry parlance) merely gathering assets for their brokerage firm. This in itself would be misleading enough, in that it would allow professionals with a sales agenda to pretend that they are offering objective services. But it is much more harmful if those sales professionals who are masquerading as objective advisers are then allowed to skirt the normal disclosure requirements imposed on the community of registered investment advisers.
It has clearly been the case that the primary hallmarks of the regulatory scheme promulgated by the SEC have been that of accuracy of disclosure and fullness of disclosure. That is, disclosure is a good thing. If the brokerage firms were required to offer their ADV forms to the public, and were prohibited from offering testimonials as to the value of their services (read: a full and accurate disclosure standard like that required under the RIA regulatory structure) then the public would have the opportunity to gauge the objectivity of the advice being offered. Under the proposal, these important safeguards would be voided.
The brochure rule, the prohibition on testimonials that is so clearly flouted in the brokerage industry advertisements, and the other regulatory protections of RIA registration are not too onerous for brokerage firms to comply with should they refocus and begin creating (or advertising that they want to create) advisory relationships with their customers. If the SEC's primary goal is truly to offer basic consumer protections and disclosures, then you will continue to require all who hold themselves out as investment advisers to register as such, regardless of their place of employment. Please advocate that the Commission will continue to fulfill its duty and commitment to the public.
Troy E. Jones, CFP