A feisty Financial Services Institute kicked off its first major conference outside Financial Planning Association sponsorship with an invitation to individual broker/dealer reps to join for the first time alongside its corporate members. During the Orlando conference, it also stepped up its campaign to raise the profile of the indie community among members of Congress and federal securities regulators.
The two initiatives are closely related, says FSI Chairman Stephen “Tony” Batman, who calls for “grassroots congressional advocacy” on the part of individual advisors. “We have to overcome a perception problem,” adds Dale Brown, FSI’s chief executive officer “Regulators don’t understand our [industry's] business model. They ask, “How do you adequately supervise reps scattered around the country in multiple locations with a 90% payout?”
The answer, suggests Brown and Batman, is first to enlarge the FSI’s ranks by allowing individual reps to join. The FSI already has 103 member firms with some 122,000 registered reps. In addition, the institute has formed a political action committee that plans to raise funds from members for contributions to candidates for federal office. The cost to join for reps associated with FSI member firms is $99/year and $125/year for reps whose broker/dealer is not yet a member. Individual rep members will also be asked to make a donation equal to their membership fee to the FSI PAC.