February 4, 2005
For too long a period of time, the SEC has provided coverage in the form of exemptions to the brokerage industry to the detrement of the general public. This exemption clearly is in error if for no other reason than the brokers no longer call themselves brokers but instead, refer to themselves as Financial Advisors or Financial Planners.
The Merrill Lynch rule is hindering the public from seeing the industry for what it is. A commission driven sales machine intended to generate dollars for the house and for the brokers themselves. I do not begrudge them for wanting to make a dollar. I only ask that the playing field be level and that they be required to register with the rest of us. I work with some great brokers that call themselves planners. They do good work for their clients.
Further, the industry recognized the lack of expertise within the brokerage community when they embraced wrap accounts and transferred the investment decision making responsibility to the List of Recommended Portfolio Managers outside of their own firms.
If the wirehouses want to call their sales people financial planners, I have no problem so long as the general public can review their ADVs and can compare them with mine.
Thanks for this forum. It was long past due.