In 1964 Bob Dylan declared that “The Times They Are a-Changin’” which became the emblematic anthem of the tumultuous years that followed. You could call that either a lucky guess on his part or a visionary (almost prophetic) statement of what he saw coming.
Now, I am no Bob Dylan and our world is much different today than it was in the 1960s. As an amateur historian, however, I can’t help but draw some parallels to the Dylan message of 1964 and the same message today as it relates to the financial services industry. I absolutely do believe that “Our Industry is a-Changin’” in a rapid, almost frantic fashion and, as advisors, we need to get our arms around these changes before we fall victim to the apathy and complacency that will destroy our practice.
To quote Shakespeare (“Romeo and Juliet”): “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
You can fill in the rest of the quote as you wish, but the rose I am referring to is that regulator formerly known as the NASD. Does it smell as sweet? I’m not so sure. In late July, the NASD and the member regulation, enforcement and arbitration functions of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) merged to form the regulator now known as FINRA. The reason for the merger was to reduce the level of duplicate rules and streamline the regulatory functions, thus protecting investors and increasing market integrity.
What the merger does to reduce regulatory redundancies may be helpful, but my concern is that now that FINRA has absorbed one arm of regulation, it may begin to seek out new opportunities for increased efficiencies, including taking on some insurance regulation, perhaps some investment advisory regulation and more.