Editor's Choice for the Week of November 9, 2009: Budgets, Bills, and Broker/Dealers

More On Legal & Compliance

from The Advisor's Professional Library
  • Client Commission Practices and Soft Dollars RIAs should always evaluate whether the products and services they receive from broker-dealers are appropriate. The SEC suggested that an RIA’s failure to stay within the scope of the Section 28(e) safe harbor may violate the advisor’s fiduciary duty to clients, so RIAs must evaluate their soft dollar relationships on a regular basis to ensure they are disclosed properly and that they do not negatively impact the best execution of clients’ transactions.
  • Using Solicitors to Attract Clients Rule 206(4)-3 under the Investment Advisors Act establishes requirements governing cash payments to solicitors. The rule permits payment of cash referral fees to individuals and companies recommending clients to an RIA, but requires four conditions are first satisfied.

The big market-moving news of last week came on November 4 from the Fed's Open Market Committee meeting, the minutes of which suggested that while there were clear signs of economic recovery, inflation remained subdued, and at week's end, with Friday's October jobs report told the sad story of a 26-year high in unemployment, with the jobless rate rising from 9.8% to 10.2%. (You might want to read a thoughtful New York Times piece on the jobless recovery and business cycles by Peter Goodman.)

Then over the weekend, the House passed the long-anticipated, highly controversial healthcare reform bill along party lines (well, there was one Republican Congressman who voted for the bill; 39 Democrats voted against it); that heated conversation now moves to the Senate. For an interesting take on physician compensation and incentives, read Cornell economist Robert Frank's article here.

In a week where the end of two wars--World War I and the Cold War--is remembered, the business week begins November 9 with earnings from Allianz and MBIA on November 10, and ING Group on November 11. After announcing its preliminary results October 26, ING said it would sell various holdings in the U.S., including three of the four firms in its network of independent broker/dealers to private equity firm Lightyear Capital.

On Tuesday, November 10, there are several Senate hearings; the Budget Committee holds a hearing on fiscal stability; and the Finance Committee holds hearings on climate change legislation. There is a pause on November 11 for the Veterans Day holiday (bond markets will be closed), President Obama begins a trip to the Far East on November 12, the same day the Treasury Department reports budget deficit numbers for September and international trade numbers. Finally on November 13, the University of Michigan/Reuters consumer sentiment index is released.

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