September 15, 2004
My trade association is opposed to your so called Merrill Lynch rule proposal allowing brokers to charge wrap fees without being RIAs. I personally favor more competition and fewer restrictions which are officially meant to protect consumers and actually are meant to restrict trade to benefit sellers. The FPA attempt to block our competitors in the wirehouses from charging fees in lieu of commissions is just such a selfish attempt to use the SEC to weaken our competitors in the name of consumer protection. Presently fees for financially planning services are far too high and their lawsuit is an attempt to reduce competition and preserve fees at current levels. It is neither your busines nor mine whether brokers and their clients use fees instead of commissions as long as the services being offered are honestly described. Present regulations forbid falsely representing the services one provides for a fee or for a commission which is enough. Forcing our competitors to either charge commissions or become RIAs is a selfish attempt to restrain trade. The SEC should adopt the rule as proposed several years ago.