From the August 2008 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

August 1, 2008

A Friendly Suggestion to Regulators

More On Legal & Compliance

from The Advisor's Professional Library
  • Where Are We Headed? The ultimate compliance goal is to help ensure that everyone associated with an advisory firm acts ethically at all times.  Advisors and RIAs should do the right thing, even when regulators are not looking over their shoulders.
  • Client Communication and Miscommunication RIA policies and procedures must specify what type of communications should be retained. The safest course of action is for RIAs to retain all communications—to clients, from clients, and about client accounts.  To comply with fiduciary obligations, communications must be thorough and not mislead.
Please, regulators, stop with the "best practices" discussions as if they are rules. Please make clear the difference between a "best practice" and a rule requirement. What may be prudent for one firm may have absolutely no relevance for another. Take, for example, Anti-Money Laundering/Patriot Act compliance. The Patriot Act is not currently applicable to investment advisors, because it would most likely result in duplicative efforts that serve no purpose (aren't investment advisors subject to enough regulations that have little to no relevance to their practices or their clients!). Custodian firms are subject to the Patriot Act. Moreover, as indicated above, Rule 206(4)-7 indicates that advisors must establish and maintain policies and procedures that are germane to their advisory operations. Thus, if an advisory firm does not have any clients in any of the OFAC countries, or accepts cash from clients, why would it need to establish a formal AML program? A discussion of AML/Patriot Act and its policies and procedures so that employees/representatives can have an understanding thereof? Yes, a formal program? No.
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