July 1, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen
I applaud your efforts to protect the consumer from fraud and unscrupulous advisory practices. However I am not convinced that subjecting a firm to the "surprise" examination would help you achieve your lofty goal. Currently the SEC and States due audits on random invoices that were generated to deduct a fee from the client's account at the custodian. They could adopt a 100% check of invoices if that truly is the main concern.
The client could be required to sign off on all debits or to initiate them if the fee issue is truly the concern.
It would appear that there are several alternatives that could be explored before creating an additional expense for either the consumer or advisor or the loss of a very favorable tax benefit to the client.
I would urge you to consider all options and ask yourselves if having the ability to deduct a fee from an account, as per agreement, rises to the level of custody that warrants the examination. Hopefully you will realize that it doesn't and that there are much more egregious issues that require your attention.