September 13, 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If we have learned nothing else from the corporate and Wall Street scandals of the 1990's, we should have learned that conflicts of interest abound and that despite lip service to the contrary, investors can and will be hurt from them.
To allow stockbrokers to market themselves as financial planners is a blatant example of another Wall Street conflict of interest. In fact, stockbrokers should be required to disclose that they are NOT financial planners and are NOT independent, so that the financial incentives they receive do not unduly influence investor decisions.
It is inconceivable that, in the aftermath of all the scandals, investigations, litigation and settlements that your agency is and has been involved in, you would even remotely consider giving stockbrokers the opportunity to misrepresent themselves to investors.
Please repeal this rule and reassure investors that you are doing your job to protect investors and avoid the economic damage that Wall Street conflicts of interest can do.
Stephen S. Winslett