July 29, 2009
I am a Certified Financial PlannerTM, a member of the Financial Planning Association and SEC-registered investment adviser.
I am writing to express my strong opposition to the proposed amendments to the custody rule, specifically the amendments that would subject RIAs to a surprise audit even if their "custody" extends only to debiting investment management fees from client accounts held at independent custodians.
The differences between firms who solely debit fees from a custodian and the Madoffs of the world should be readily apparent. The fees which we debit are stated to the client clearly and multiple times in their monthly statements from the custodian. There is simply no imaginable way a Ponzi scheme or attempt to charge excessive fees could escape the notice of the custodian and the client.
While it may not be the intent, this would subject smaller firms to significant costs for no apparent regulatory benefit. We already spend a large proportion of our revenue complying with regulations, some of which were brought about due to abuses by large brokerage firms, which can much more easily afford the costs incurred due to their own questionable business practices.
Additionally, in this case it seems that additional regulation is being proposed where simple enforcement of existing regulations by the SEC and specifically FINRA would be a better focus.
Please do not pass these additional unnecessary regulations.