August 30, 2004
I most strongly urge the Commission to withdraw the proposed rule. The Commission has made great strides recently in requiring disclosure of conflicts of interest and leveling the playing field for the investor.
This is one area in most need of reconsideration of your previous position. The proposed rule allows the brokerage industry to mislead the public that they provide the same client-centered, fiduciary responsible services with full disclosure of all conflicts of interest that I, an RIA, do. Brokerages are allowed to use testimonials. I can not.
I am unable to find an actual broker any more. They all represent themselves as financial consultants, financial counselors, etc. to give themselves the same cachet so hard-won by actual financial planners who ARE fiduciarys.
A broker is in the sales business. Anyone who represents themselves as in the financial planning business should be required to be an RIA to maintain a level playing field and allow the public to be confident that a financial planner provides conflict-free, fiduciary advice.
A broker need not disclose their educational background nor their disciplinary history. An RIA must do so.
It is a blinding flash of the obvious that the public you serve would be far better off if this rule was removed and tigher restrictions placed on those who hold themselves out as financial advisors. More disclosure should be the norm and not allowed to be hidden behind solely incidental fuzzy exemptions.