Articles Tagged with Financial Planning Coalition

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), on May 29, wrote to Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) opposing the self-regulatory organization (SRO) bill that was reintroduced in the House of Representatives in April. We discussed the bill in a previous post, SRO Redraft Bill Reintroduced. POGO joins a long list of groups, including the Investment Advisers Association, the Financial Planning Coalition and the American Institute of CPAs, opposing the bill. POGO is particularly opposed to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) becoming the SRO because it believes that “FINRA’s regulatory effectiveness is undermined by its inherent conflicts of interest, its lack of transparency and accountability, its lobbying expenditures, and its executive compensation packages, among other issues.”

The letter addresses each area of concern POGO has relating to FINRA becoming the SRO for investment advisers. First, POGO states that FINRA’s “conflicted mission” will lead “to cozy ties with the industry.” POGO says the conflict arises because FINRA collects fees from member firms and is also charged with regulating the investment adviser industry. POGO believes that FINRA’s “inherently conflicted self-funding model has contributed to an incestuous relationship between FINRA and the industry it is tasked with regulating.” In contrast, POGO contends that government agencies are not conflicted because they must comply with federal ethic laws and agency regulations designed to alleviate the conflicts.
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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has responded to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study that estimated the cost of FINRA becoming the investment adviser self regulatory organization (SRO). The BCG study, which we have discussed in a previous blog, was sponsored by the Financial Planning Coalition, comprised of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers. The Financial Planning Coalition, along with a number of other groups, is urging Congress to maintain investment adviser oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The BCG study concluded that, if FINRA were to become the investment adviser SRO, the one-time start-up cost would be between $200 million and $255 million, and the annual cost would be about $550 million to $610 million. In response to the BCG study, last month FINRA released its own cost estimates. According to FINRA, its start-up cost would be approximately $12 million to $15 million, with annual cost of about $150 million to $155 million. FINRA contends that the BCG projection is inaccurate because “BCG used as its base the costs for establishing the PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board) and the CFPB from scratch. BCG used figures – set up costs for organizations that didn’t even have one desk or employee to start with – and provided for only a 20% discount off the from-scratch start-up costs to allow for efficiencies in FINRA’s existing infrastructure.”
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Congressman Spencer Bachus (R – Ala), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, recently published draft legislation and held hearings concerning whether a self-regulatory organization (SRO) should regulate registered investment advisers. In addition to assigning regulatory responsibilities for SEC-registered firms to an SRO, Bacchus’s bill would apparently do the same for state-regulated advisers. In the recently passed Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC was assigned the task of studying the concept of extending SRO oversight to IA firms.

IA groups are split on whether an SRO should replace all or part of current SEC/State oversight . For example, the Financial Planning Coalition, comprised of the CFP Board, the FPA and NAPFA, said in September that an SRO “is not the solution” to improve and increase IA examinations. However, the Financial Services Institute (FSI) has encouraged adoption of such a plan.
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