Pound Foolish

It is interesting to observe how financial industry trade journals reacted to the recent publication of the book Pound Foolish, by financial columnist Helaine Olen. The book has mostly been condemned as a biased example of muckraking journalism (although Business Week has given it a fair review). But only a few trade publications have even noticed it. Why might that be?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the financial industry’s lobbying effort to limit the regulatory reach of the Dodd-Frank Act is currently in high gear. Much of the controversy focuses on the SEC’s attempt to apply a fiduciary standard to all those who provide investment advice to retail consumers. Registered Investment Advisors, such as Schultz Collins, Inc., have long been required to adhere to a fiduciary standard, but not so for stockbrokers, insurance agents, and other salesmen. Much of the financial industry is working to water down the final regulations, and lobbying groups are donating considerable sums to both Democratic and Republican law makers.

On a different front, the Department of Labor found itself under pressure from the financial services industry as it proposed new rules for fee disclosure and conflict of interest transparency for participant directed defined contribution plans. Our former Retirement Plan Services practice leader Jon Chambers testified in favor of full disclosure at congressional hearings in Washington, D.C.

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