Monday, March 30, 2009

Leveling the playing field

I am posting here a terrific article from today's Wall Street Journal about the key differences between how brokerages and fee-only financial planners are regulated. I was very much heartened to read this. Mary Schapiro was head of FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and, in that capacity, had been an advocate for traditional brokers and regulations. There was a lot of concern when she was tapped to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) because she represented the traditional way of doing things; that is, traditional brokers and the "suitability" standard for serving clients. In this column, Jason Zweig does a great job of explaining the difference between suitability and fiduciary standards, and - importantly - indicates that Mary Schapiro is coming around on the issue. In truth, no client who understands the differences between these two standards would knowingly choose the lesser. Registered Investment Advisors have a higher duty to their clients and that's a good thing. The traditional brokerage world is tumbling a tiny bit at a time.

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