Subject: File No. S7-25-99
From: Eric D Hess, CFP, ChFC
Affiliation: Mnanaging Director

February 8, 2005

A financial person either works for a company or works for a client. Legally, that is how it is. You must make large corporations liable for advice their reps give. Private firms are liable so why would it be any different for Merrill Lynch? At the core of this is training, and the value created in humans trained in all 104 topics of financial planning over three or more years of formal schooling and exams. They want to pretentd a 6 week training course is the same thing and charge the same rates for advice dispensed by a person who paid the many thousands of dollars and invested the study time to be certified. This same person has continuing education standards they must meet. The firm I left pulled this fraud on the general public for 11 years. I managed a group of 34 advisors. Out of 34, only 2 ever got certified over a 11 year period. The others simply called themselves financial advisors and just sold products while giving awful advice. There was no distinction between the two very different people. Pretending to be a doctor, lawyer, policeman, accountant, etc, is a crime. It should be one in this case as well. But the SEC has constantly carved out a special loophole to let the financial services industry commit this crime of impersinating a financial advisor against our decent law abiding citizens. Its getting worse, now firms are sending out their brokers in teams under camouflage DBAs with wierd unknown dislcosures like they are indepedent practices. Every piece of advice should be dispensed only by a certified individual and in writing. Set some hard rules and require a level of honesty. Peoples livelyhoods are at stake. Didnt the industry just pay 1.5 billion for fraud and the SEC creates these new RIA standards and then makes an exemption for these very same criminals? What is going on there at the SEC?