Warren's Debut; Congress, Fed Get to Work; and Housing: Advisor Briefing for the Week of September 20, 2010

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  • The Custody Rule and its Ramifications When an RIA takes custody of a client’s funds or securities, risk to that individual increases dramatically. Rule 206(4)-2 under the Investment Advisers Act (better known as the Custody Rule), was passed to protect clients from unscrupulous investors.
  • 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.

Following her appointment last week as advisor to the President, Elizabeth Warren hosts a mortgage disclosure forum this week at the Treasury with Tim Geithner. A trio of housing reports spread out over the week will be closely watched by the markets. A two-day Department of Labor confab is expected to shed some light on top-of-mind issues for retirement plan participants and advisors. The Fed Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday, and a passel of hearings in the Senate and House address everything from the Stanford Ponzi scheme to the best way to grow jobs and stimulate the economy.

The week begins on Monday, Sept. 20, with the release by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) of its housing market index for September.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meets in Washington--the FOMC is scheduled to release its statement at 2:15 PM Eastern time--while the U.N. General Assembly convenes in New York.

The Census Bureau releases August housing starts early on Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Elizabeth Warren, named last week as assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Treasury Secretary on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will host a Mortgage Disclosure Forum at the Treasury in Washington; the hearing is designed to provide guidance to the CFPB on how to simplify disclosure forms under the Dodd-Frank Act. Speaking of which, the SEC has launched a new section on its website designed to track the Commission's rulemaking on the Dodd-Frank Act.

That same day, Sen. Chris Dodd's Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing entitled "Investing in Infrastructure: Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy," focusing on President Barack Obama's call for creating a National Infrastructure Bank to stimulate the economy.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, that same Senate Committee will conduct a hearing on the SEC Inspector General's report on the Stanford Ponzi scheme, and whether the SEC has improved its oversight of such scandals. The Senate Budget Committee meets that day to discuss the federal response to the economic crisis, and over in the House, the Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on the state of the international financial system, including regulatory issues, as they relate to the Dodd-Frank Act, while the Senate Finance Committee kicks off two days of hearings on tax issues with a session on "Tax and Fiscal Policy: Effects on the Military and Veterans Community."

On Thursday, Sept. 23, come two big indicators: the Conference Board index of leading economic indicators; and existing home sales for August from the National Association of Realtors. The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on lessons learned from the 1986 tax reform bill.

Also, the Senate Banking Committee will meet to conduct a hearing entitled "The Federal Housing Administration--Current Condition and Future Challenges," while the House Financial Services Committee's Capital Markets subcommittee holds a hearing on the limitations of the Securities Investor Protection Act

On Friday, Sept. 24, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke delivers a speech at Princeton University, where he taught for two decades, while the busy House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on executive compensation under Dodd-Frank.

August durable goods orders are released by the Census Bureau, which also releases new home sales for August.

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