The Conundrum of Mary Jo White
If Wall Street were really interested in having a total commitment to the long-term interests of its clients, it would embrace a fiduciary standard, but it does just the opposite.
Last week, I set out from California on a journey to the center of the (political) earth in Washington, D.C., to join up with a small band--we happy few--of colleagues to meet with Mary Jo White, chair of the SEC. The purpose of our expedition was to look her in the eye, so to speak, and set forth our views on the critical need for the SEC to issue rules requiring stockbrokers (that is, registered representatives of broker/dealer firms, or B/Ds) to adhere to the fiduciary standard of conduct set forth in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, commonly known as the "40 Act."
To bring all up to date: the SEC and the U.S. Department of Labor since 2010 have been seeking to issue new rules that will redefine what it means to be a "fiduciary" under, respectively, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, which oversees retirement plan accounts of plan participants, and the 40 Act (as amended by the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, or Dodd-Frank bill), which oversees retail accounts of individual investors.