This is a big week for Chet Helck.
The Raymond James Global Private Client Group chief and Securities Industry Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) chairman will oversee the launch of an initiative which, reflecting his own “passion,” will likely become an indelible part of his legacy. On Thursday, SIFMA will announce an initiative to address investor distrust of Wall Street when Judd Gregg, SIFMA CEO, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington. Next Monday, Helck will welcome President Bill Clinton to kick off SIFMA’s annual meeting in New York.
The importance to Helck of restoring investor trust is obvious. As incoming chairman in October 2012 at SIFMA’s annual meeting, Helck spoke plainly and clearly about the initiative. “Our main job this year is to restore trust in our industry. We have to fix what’s wrong, and take accountability and then emphasize what’s right.”
Helck restated this message throughout the year. In May in an Investment Advisor interview, Helck said, “My most important goal for this year is to take on the issue of public trust and confidence…. (trust) has reached down to a level where it’s critical that we address it.”
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In July, in On Wall Street, Helck said restoring trust “has been the cornerstone of my year as chairman of SIFMA. It’s been my passion.” The story continued, “The resulting recommendations will likely encompass changes to industry regulations, practices and transparency.”
SIFMA CEO Gregg, on this initiative, stresses the capital markets. In August, WealthManagement reported that SIFMA is working on “an aggressive campaign to combat the lack of investor confidence in the financial sector. Gregg plans to spearhead a grassroots initiative aimed at showing the public how essential the capital market system is in theU.S.”
When asked what advisors (and brokers) can do to be responsible “in lending and (the) sale of products,” Gregg’s advice is pointed. In a July On Wall Street interview, he said, “Above all, be honest and transparent with your clients.”
Helck and Judd speak candidly of the gravity of the problem; they acknowledge what needs to be done. Chief among the remedies is investor education about the markets, increased transparency from firms and for advisors (and brokers) to “be honest and transparent.” As to a way forward, they could do far worse than heed the counsel from the independent research on this topic.