Monday, November 2, 2009

Congress to Give FINRA Authority over RIAs

According to InvestmentNews.com, there has been an amendment to the Investor Protection Act which gives FINRA authority over the advisory activity of any broker-dealer that it regulates.

The bill would affect anyone who is dually registered as an investment adviser and a broker, and would greatly expand FINRA's authority over the financial markets.

On one level the proposal makes sense. In recent years we have seen the distinctions between brokers and advisers blurr, and in the retail area, there often is no substantive difference between the two. At least not to the investor, who often does not know, nor does he care, whether his financial adviser is a stock broker or an investment adviser.

The most notorious example is Madoff, who, although presenting himself and his firm as a brokerage firm, was actually acting, or purporting to act, as an investment adviser. In that example, a distinction without a difference, and giving FINRA authority over the RIA side of the BDs business might have made a difference.

That is not to say that FINRA should have authority over all RIAs. There are thousands of investment advisers who are not brokers and who do not work for broker-dealers. Those adviser are now regulated by the states, or by the SEC, depending on how much money they manage.


The committee is scheduled to vote on the Investor Protection Act Nov. 4. According to InvestmentNews.com, it is likely to approve the bill. More>>>

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