January 17, 2005
I strongly urge the commission to rule in favor of clarity for the consumer/client. This must be done soon, with no further delay.
The consumer has very little discernment between a fee planner/RIA, and a brokerage relationship when asset-based fees are being charged by both. Dislcosures will not ameliorate this obfuscation.
The larger problem is how to reign in the title of Financial Advisor? We have it, we are just not making the decisions to enforce it. The act of 1940 is clear. The commission shows a lack of leadership to delay its enforcement on the brokerage community.
The commission should move towards a policy that provides that if your are not a series 64/65, you cannot hold yourself out as an Advisor - investment or financial.
If you charge asset based fees for investment advice, then you are holding yourself out as an advisor regardless of disclosures, titles, and incidentals. This is the public perception.
I urge the commission to deal with it.
By doing so, you protect the public. In addition, leveling the playing field for advisors and apparent advisors with respect to their level of fiduciary responsibility owed to the public. This should occur whenever a financial professional chooses to accept asset based fees for investment advice.
The level of hardship on the brokerage community is not a relevant discussion, and shows a lack of objectivity.