September 7, 2004
I am a fee only RIA. I serve middle class retirees, the people who most have to worry about outliving their money. I have seen hundreds of brokerage statements from every major Wall Street brokerage firm. There is severe and permanent damage done to the financial futures of many middle class retirees by stock brokers. If stock brokers were legally acountable to their clients by the same laws we RIAs are, this financial abuse would come to a grinding halt. The grinding halt would be the massive filing of breach of fiduciary duty actions by attorneys who would find your average product pushing stock brokers client portfolios easy prey in a court of law. Yes, it would be the sharks eating the barracudas. At least wed rid ourselves of the barracudas.
The Uniform Prudent Investor Laws were specifically designed to protect ALL investors, not just the ones who are served by RIAs. Exempting stock brokers from the protections offered in the Prudent Investor laws creates two classes of investors: those afforded the full protection of all the laws and those who are not fully protected. How can we in good conscience arbitrarily withold vital legal protection from investors? How can we withhold from some investors the ability to recover financial damages? Would we not be guilty of gross discrimination were we to consciously create a class of under protected investors?
Please afford ALL investors ALL of the protection under the law. Do not shelter stock brokers from the consequences of their actions. Trash the Merril Lynch rule or trash investors, the choice is yours.