September 7, 2004
The Securities and Exchange Commission has re-opened the period for public comment on a rule proposal under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 that would address the application of the Advisers Act to brokers offering certain full service brokerage services including advice for an asset-based fee instead of traditional commissions, mark-ups, and mark-downs, and that would address electronic trading for reduced brokerage commissions.
I am writing to express my concern about this rule proposal. The large brokerage firms are competing head to head with my firm, touting their role as comprehensive financial advisors. Merrill Lynch is front and center in the competitive landscape, yet they think their advisors should not be held to the same fiduciary standards that smaller boutique firms like mine are held, despite the fact that they have conflicts of interest galore. I believe that the SEC should withdraw its rule exempting broker-dealers from the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. They are offering the same types of services that my firm offers, without the objectivity that my firm insists upon. If a firm is giving investment advice, they should be subject to the Investment Advisors Act of 1940. Thank you for your consideration.
Kelly A. Christensen
President, Sage Financial Advisors Inc.