Kicking off the annual conference of the Financial Services Institute (FSI) in Orlando on Jan. 29, the new chair of the independent broker/dealer group, John Simmers of ING Advisors Group, listed the accomplishments of FSI since its inception in 2004 and under the tutelage of outgoing chairman John Poff of Mutual Service Corp. He cited membership of more than 100 B/D firms, including 12 firms that joined in 2006, and 5,300 individuals; growing influence on Capitol Hill, signified by last year’s Public Policy Day in which leaders of multiple broker/dealers met with 66 U.S. Senators and Congressmen; and building relationships with the SEC, NASD, and NASAA to help them understand and appreciate the independent broker/dealer model. Notably, Simmers mentioned the “significant progress” made by FSI members in the NASD district committees. Serving on the NASD board was quite educational, he said, in that he realized “that the rules were not made there, but in the subcommittees.”

To keep up the momentum, Simmers said the FSI will soon issue a white paper detailing the development of the independent broker/dealer model as part of its effort to educate legislators, regulators, and the public alike that the independent contractor model of the independent B/Ds has as much if not more value than the employee-based B/D model.

Looking ahead, Simmers noted that he was encouraged by NASD Chairman Mary Schapiro’s statement that she did not believe that regulation should be a “one size fits all” affair. He also promised that FSI will “actively advocate” on behalf of independent B/Ds and their advisors as the merger unfolds over the next few months of the regulatory arms of the New York Stock Exchange and the NASD.