August 24, 2004
Caveat Emptor, while a good policy for an individual to follow, is not always a wise policy for regulators.
I urge you to WITHDRAW your proposal to exempt broker/dealers or any other
financial organizations from the requirements set forth in the Securities
Act of 1940 when they offer fee-based brokerage programs.
It is contrary to the publics interests to be offered financial advice
without the advisor being subject to regulatory oversight. It is also a
specious argument that any financial advice could be incidental to the
sale of products. That would be the same as saying that the knowledge
required to fill a medical prescription properly is incidental to the
sale of that drug and therefore pharmacists need not be licensed because
theyre merely selling products.
Companies should not be allowed to offer financial ADVICE as distinct from
sales recommendations AT ALL unless they are willing to conform to the
higher standards implied by that. It is clear from the marketing efforts of
such firms that they are positioning themselves as advice-givers rather
than sellers of products.
If a company is PRIMARILY in the business of selling products, it should
not be allowed by regulators to market itself as an advisor if it isnt
willing to be regulated as such - that is FALSE ADVERTISING, which
presumably is still frowned upon by the SEC.