September 20, 2004
I urge the Commission to withdraw the proposed rule exempting broker-dealers from the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. As broker-dealers are now describing themselves as financial advisors in the media, I believe they should be held to the same fiduciary standards as RIAs when they are offering and performing the same financial planning and investment advisory services that RIAs provide.
The Merrill Lynch Rule should be withdrawn.
The proposed rule is confusing and misleading to to consumers by creating two different standards of conduct for persons offering financial planning services. Based on their own words and actions, broker-dealers DO NOT qualify for an exemption from their duty to the public.
The Commission should act to level the playing field for all firms offering investment advisory services by withdrawing this proposed rule and its resulting exemption for broker-dealers from the investment advisory rules.