December 6, 2010

Harvey Pitt Assails Dodd-Frank at Indexing Conference

Former SEC Chair calls legislative action premature; addresses Super Bowl of Indexing conference.

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  • Risk-Based Oversight of Investment Advisors Even if the SEC had a larger budget and more resources, it is doubtful that the Commission would have the resources to regularly examine all RIAs. Therefore, the SEC is likely to continue relying on risk-based oversight to fulfill its mission of protecting investors.
  • Conducting Due Diligence of Sub-Advisors and Third-Party Advisors Engaging in due-diligence of sub-advisors isn’t 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 firm’s strategy is proprietary.

Harvey Pitt, a former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, took shots at the Dodd-Frank Act on Monday. “Each page drips with multiple unintended consequences,” said Pitt, speaking on the first day of the Super Bowl of Indexing conference held in Phoenix.

Pitt (left) also cast doubt on the new legislation’s ability to deal with future crises and argued it had created layers of additional bureaucracy.

The former SEC chair from 2001-03 told attendees that lawmakers should have taken time to fully understand the root causes of the financial crisis before creating legislation.

The Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law in July 2010 and a full review of the causes and effects of the financial crisis is due to be released by the SEC by the end of the year.

Also speaking on the Super Bowl of Indexing conference’s first day was Joanne Hill, Head of Investment Strategy at ProFunds Group and ProShares, who noted three substantial shifts in indexing over the past 15 years.

First, index investing strategies have evolved from plain vanilla stock indexes to asset classes like commodities and fixed income. She also noted that the growth of investment vehicles like ETFs, ETNs and structured products have made indexing strategies more accessible. Lastly, Hill explained how clients using index-based strategies had expanded beyond institutional investors to touch financial advisors and their clients. A representative of San Francicso-based Charles Schwab backed this last claim, remarking that 81 percent of RIAs trading through its platform now use ETFs.

Read Harvey Pitt’s views on Dodd-Frank at AdvisorOne.com.

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