February 3, 2005
The following is submitted to put the current discussion into a broader perspective.
Before moving into Fee-Only Financial Planning and Investment Management over 20 years ago I was a Partner in a Chicago CPA Firm.
Accordingly, I have always been of the opinion that Financial Planners, like CPAs and Attorneys, should be licensed in the state where they practice. There is a reason that CPAs and Attorneys are not licensed at the federal level - and why they are not required to register as an RIA.
If you properly analyze the areas covered by financial planning, such as retirement planning, tax planning, estate planning, insurance needs analysis and so on, you have to ask why somebody would need to be registered as an RIA to provide these services.
Even in the investment area, if financial planning were limited to a review of the overall structure and management of an individuals investment portfolio to ascertain whether their portfolio is consistent with their investment goals, in line with their risk-tolerance level, completely diversified, and appropriately managed, this could be defined as incidental and thus not require registration as an RIA.
But if the review included an evaluation of the soundness of individual investments or the adequacy of Money Managers, the recommendation or sale of investments, or the actual management of investments - whether or not discretionary authority is taken - then that individual should be registered as an RIA.
The bottom line is that financial planning should be regulated at the state level, investment sales by the NASD and investment management by the SEC/State because they are completely different services and should be regulated separately.