September 4, 2004
It has always been a clear commercial advantage for me that my client duties as an investment advisor hold me to a higher standard of accountability, it is solely in the interest of the consumer that I write.
A preponderance of the work that I engage for new advisory clients is in the nature of fixing problems caused by the improper use of financial products. Many stockbrokers in the financial marketplace use every phrase, including a self description that they are investment advisors as needed in order to sell a financial product to unsuspecting consumers. Since the nature of a sales relationship is sales or product based, the salesperson has little concern for the specific needs of the consumer. Once a product is sold or after the product has passed the period whare it can be returned, the broker has little concern for the consumer because he/she will already have been paid the sales commission. The one that bears the burden of improper use of a product is the consumer.
Most consumers think that there is no difference between a registered investment advisor or a product salesperson, a registered representative or a stockbroker. This is clearly not so and to continue the exemption for certain salespeople is deceptive to and confusing to the consumer.
By requiring that the brokerage and banking investment salespeople be registered the same as investment advisors, the consumers of this great country can have confidence that regulators are properly scrutinizing all of those people who claim to be investment advisors.
This creates a clear distinction of those who are investment advisors and those who are clearly product salespeople working for a product manufacturer.
Individuals that are categorized as investment advisors have a fiduciary duty to their advisory clients. Salespeople who claim to be advisors, when in fact they are not registered with SEC creates confusion for the consuming public. This confusion is destructive to the confidence of the consumenr in the financial services industry. Further, salespeople and their employers often use this confusion as an advantage in the manufacture and sales of financal products, whether or not they are appropriate for the consuming public.
If the SEC desires to serve the consuming public and do so by eliminating confusion or possible fraud, they would do well to assure that ALL advisors and especially those that claim to be, are held to the same rigor and quality standards.
Please do not allow the brokerage community the ability to be exempt from the investment advisor rules. Please provide consistent guidance for the consumer. Please consider your duty to the consumers.
Thank you for your attention.