That was a very nice puff piece about Mary Schapiro (Investment Advisor May 2007 Cover Story, "At the Helm"). Sadly, her stated goals will never be achieved because of the regulatory juggernaut that she has had such a large hand in creating.
The typical American's goals, which she lists as retiring well, educating children, and coping with healthcare needs will never happen on her watch. The framework she has created lards so much compliance cost on every firm that their reps cannot afford to serve any but the wealthy. Indeed, many firms will not pay their reps for bringing in small tickets.
When the average American (who is not rich) finally gets to retirement, he or she will have little money to live on or pay for their health problems. Schapiro correctly states that there is a great need among the public for advice and solutions to their financial problems, but they won't get that advice or those solutions from the investment advisor industry. A large measure of their personal failure will come because small investors cannot find affordable, competent advice.
Mary Schapiro has created an environment where only the wealthy can be profitably served. This is a group that can largely pay to solve its problems without any help from an advisor. A system that rewards us for making the rich even richer, while ignoring the middle class, cannot aspire to being a profession (but hey...at least we'll make a lot of money, won't we!).
Shame on her, and shame on us for allowing this to happen.
Beerbaum & Beerbaum Financial
I Couldn't Have Said It Better
I just read Bob Clark's column in your June issue ("Clark at Large, "Mr. Keller Goes to Washington") Terrific! This is the best exposition of what needs to be done I believe I've ever read. I can't tell you the number of discussions/arguments we had over these issues back in 1991 to 1995. Your article brought back a lot of memories, good and bad.
I've often thought about writing a "history" of the movement during the years I was involved, 1983 to 1997, but I've not been able to bring myself to do it. "Critical mass," standards, fiduciary responsibility, disclosure, full disclosure, so many key words that trigger the strings.
Bob, keep up the good work.
Hopefully, "they" are listening.
John T. Blankinship, Jr., CFP
Blankinship & Foster, LLC
Family Wealth Advisers
Solana Beach, California
Correction & Clarification
In the June issue's Retirement Planning profile of Longevity Alliance's Steve Zaleznick "Helping Navigate the Product Seas," we misstated the cost of the Longevity Financial program. The article said, "The total expense to customers is about one basis point," when the actual cost to clients is about 100 bps...
A few readers questioned the inclusion of Ameriprise Financial in our annual directory of independent broker/dealers in the June issue. While we do rely on the companies surveyed to provide us with data that we do not independently verify, we did take pains to include in Ameriprise's listing only those registered reps who are independent contractors with Ameriprise, not employees of the former American Express Financial Advisors.