September 3, 2009
Dear Members of the Securities and Exchange Commission:
I am writing this in support of the Third Party Marketing Association’s concern regarding the proposed rulemaking that would prohibit third party marketers from dealing with or marketing to public funds such as ours. Clearly, past abuses such as those uncovered in New York and New Mexico beg for some regulation and oversight or clarity of existing rules. Such rules may be that third party marketers must be registered, e.g. Series 7, and full disclosure of compensation terms must be made up front. Any violation of these rules, such as a back-door payment, or kick-back, should result in appropriate penalties and incarceration.
But, the industry does need the “third party marketer.” These people are no more than out source contractors for firms that can ill afford their own marketing arms. Small, emerging asset management firms, even mature boutique firms, do not want or should not ask the key individuals, who are managing the assets day in and day out, to spend the preponderance of their precious time on the road introducing the firm to consultants and public funds, making presentations at conferences and attending or hosting group dinners. These activities, the “greet, meet and eat” stuff is made for the marketer, who is personable and conversant on a wide variety of subjects. The firm’s portfolio managers and likely owners are asset managers, typically intense market oriented, highly focused and, while good people, maybe not so personable. They usually do not make good marketers.
Without the third party marketers, we in the public fund arena will not see the small and the boutique. We will not see the emerging, often minority and female owned firm (unless they are part of a “farm team” concept.) And, typically when we do see these folks, the presentations put together by them will be poorly done and not very good sales promotions.
Third party marketers have a role in this industry. They are the “manufacturers’ reps” of the asset management business. All industries have them. We should too.
Thank you for considering this correspondence.
James R. Meynard, CFA
Georgia Firefighters' Pension Fund