Perhaps the catchword for independent broker/dealer business for 2007 is change. As John Simmers becomes chairman of the Financial Services Institute (FSI), unprecedented change is swirling around independent broker/dealers, and he will lead the group through harmonization of NYSE/NASD rules into a combined rulebook and the birth of a new hybrid SRO.
Simmers, CEO of El Segundo, California-based ING Advisors Network, says FSI is speaking out against "rulemaking by enforcement" which the organization charges only serves to "undermine self regulation;" working to address the unintended consequences of new or pending regulations; meeting with regulators and lawmakers; and issuing white papers and comment on industry issues and proposed regulations.
Simmers is currently on the NASD board of governors, and both he and the FSI endorse the hybrid SRO. He says FSI is "very concerned about preserving space in the regulatory community where industry input is taken seriously, and plays a role in the formulation and interpretation and application of the rules and regulations," and notes that he is "comfortable" that the proposed structure of the new SRO "preserves that opportunity."
Not all regulators fully "understand or appreciate the independent broker/dealer model," Simmers asserts, so "there's a lot of education that still needs to be done" with regulators.