August 23, 2004
I urge the SEC to withdraw the rule exempting broker-dealers from the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 when offering fee-based brokerage programs. I believe the rule is harmful to American consumers by creating two different standards of conduct for persons offering financial planning services: a higher fiduciary standard for registered investment advisers such as myself and a lower one under NASD suitability rules. The rule also appears to exempt brokers from being required to disclose conflicts of interest in connection with the offer of financial planning services. I think this is a step backwards for the financial planning community in general, no matter what size institution or manner of operating is involved.
With the level of scruting that CPAs and other professionals are placed under, irrespective of firm size, financial planners, or those who hold themselves out to be included in that broad group, should be held to equally high, and exacting uniform standards to ultimately protect American consumers.