Holding Brokers to Investment Adviser Accountability Standards is a Bad Idea, Say Some Wall Street Executives

At the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association conference on Wednesday, brokerage executives cautioned against imposing the standards of accountability for investment advisers on brokers. Rather than extending the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to broker-dealers, this year’s SIMFA chair John Taft said that it would be better to create a new standard. Taft is also the head of Royal Bank of Canada’s US brokerage.

Right now, brokers and investment advisers are upheld to separate standards-even though many investors don’t realize that the two belong to different groups. As fiduciaries, investment advisers must prioritize their clients’ interests above that of their own or that of their financial firm. It wasn’t until 2008’s financial crisis when investors lost money on financial instruments that were lucrative for brokers that the call for a higher standard for these representatives grew louder.

At a conference panel, he said that imposing investment adviser accountability standards would not only be bad for the industry, potentially preventing some sales such as IPOs, but also he that this could harm investors.

Will brokers get their way on this? According to Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP Founder and Stockbroker Fraud Lawyer William Shepherd, the answer is, likely, yes:
“Decades ago, the difference between a ‘stock broker’ and ‘investment advisor’ was that stock brokers simply charged commissions to execute trades. At the time, there was also no online trading so investors could not do-it-themselves. In fact, May 1, 1975 (unaffectionately called “May Day”) was the first day stock commissions became negotiable. As commissions eventually eroded to just a few dollars per trade, stock brokerage firms migrated to higher charges on hidden-fee products, options, high volume trading, etc.

More recently, ‘stock brokers’ have dropped that moniker and simply become ‘investment advisors’ (whether called ‘financial consultants’, or whatever). Now that Wall Street’s agents have actually become investment advisors, and should be subject to the Investment Advisor Act of 1940, they instead want to escape the law, which has for 70 years been successful in regulating investment advisors. Why? Simply because they do not want to be responsible to their clients for cheating them.”

Related Web Resources:

Brokers say adviser standards could harm markets, Reuters, July 13, 2011
Is Wall Street Ready for Mayday 2?, The New York Times, April 28, 1985
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

More Blog Posts:

Do Brokers Owe a Fiduciary Duty to Clients?, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 27, 2011
Most Investors Want Fiduciary Standard for Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers, Say Trade Groups to SEC, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, October 12, 2010
House and Senate Negotiators Can’t Seem to Agree on Fiduciary Standard in Financial Regulatory Reform Bill, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, June 17, 2010
To speak with our stockbroker lawyers and find out whether you have a claim, contact our securities fraud law firm today.