More On Legal & Compliancefrom The Advisor's Professional Library
- Conducting Due Diligence of Sub-Advisors and Third-Party Advisors Engaging in due-diligence of sub-advisors isnt just a recommended best practice it is part of the fiduciary obligation to a client. An RIA should be extremely reluctant to enter a relationship with a sub-advisor who claims the firms strategy is proprietary.
- 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 communicationsto clients, from clients, and about client accounts. To comply with fiduciary obligations, communications must be thorough and not mislead.
The leadership of the Financial Services Institute (FSI) threw down the gauntlet in front of legislators and regulators at its OneVoice annual meeting in New Orleans January 25-27, saying it would focus its "effective political advocacy," in the words of new FSI chair Mari Buechner, on the regulatory reform now in Congress, fighting for continuance of 12b-1 fees, and preserving B/D reps' independent contractor status. Now in its sixth year of existence, FSI national conference chair Tim Murphy, CEO of Investors Capital, noted that there were 514 attendees in 2010, representing a 10% increase.
Buechner argued that the group has "earned credibility for our business model" in its advocacy efforts, to the point that "today we have a seat at the table with SEC, FINRA, the states, and Congress," and that independent financial advisors "now represent 43% of all advisors," according to Cerulli Associates.
Buechner's attendance reflects the growing influence of smaller-firm broker/dealers, which Buechner said now represent 20% of all FSI membership. In an interview, outgoing Chair Eric Schwartz of Cambridge Investment Research noted that a dozen such small firms joined FSI during his tenure as chair, and that FSI effectively now represents the entire independent B/D community.
CEO Dale Brown, the single person most responsible for FSI's efficacy and growing influence in a remarkably short time, noted in a speech in the opening session that FSI's priorities include continued robust participation in FINRA governance; being "constructively engaged" in the regulatory and legislative process, and in educating policy makers, citing as a particular triumph "making sure" that any consumer financial protection agency "does not oversee independent broker/dealers and RIAs. "Congress," B Brown said, "is the key to long-term change," and it's more important than ever" for FSI to use its hard-won credibility in influencing those issues of importance to its members.