February 1, 2012
While I applaud the SEC on recent changes to the format of Form ADV, Part 2 which have greatly enhanced disclosures for registered investment advisors, the sad reality for investors is that, while conflicts of interest present with many advisors are appropriately disclosed in the ADV 2, such conflicts are not disclosed in radio, television and other forms of advertising. An example is a local advisor that is registered with the SEC that regularly touts "independent, unbiased advice" and fiduciary duty in daily radio and television ads while such advisor, in addition to selling insurance and annuity products, collects commissions from mutual funds and takes an "administrative fee" of as much as 25% of the fees from managers of separately-managed-accounts that they recommend. While such conflicts of interest with clients are appropriately disclosed in the advisor's ADV 2, to promote daily on radio and television ads that such advisor is "unbiased" is a patently false and misleading statement. Perhaps this represents as much of an enforcement issue as a question of the "format of disclosures to investors" but I respectfully suggest that investors should not be expected to read a 30+ page SEC document to learn about conflicts of interest that are NOT appropriately disclosed in radio and television advertisements.
In my view, there are two solutions to this issue of disclosure and/or misleading advertising:
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Kevin P. Ellis