January 14, 2005
I write to urge you to permanently withdraw the proposed/temporary rule exempting certain broker/dealers from registration under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
My rationale is easily explained by means of metaphor.
Imagine a barber who routinely discusses investing issues with his hair-cutting clients while cutting their hair. After a while, some of his hair-cutting clients decide to pay the barber a retainer fee for non-discretionary management of their investment portfolio.
The rationale of the B/D exemption suggests that, since the Barber considers his advice to be solely incidental to his hair-cutting business, and management is non-discretionary, then he should be exempt from registration under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
Of course, this example is silly. It is as equally silly, in our opinion, as the Broker/Dealer exemption idea. I am frankly shocked that the commission could seriously consider lessening the protection of investors from some of the entities that they most need to be protected from i.e., Broker/Dealer salespeople masquerading as objective fiduciaries.
Investors would be far better served by completely precluding broker/dealers from giving investment advice of any sort -- solely incidental or not.
The commissions primary concern ought to be how to protect the investing public from these ill-informed sales-pitches masquerading as objective financial advice.
Eric E. Haas