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Barbara Roper: 'Protections Have Been Under Attack'

A leading consumer advocate discusses whether small investors should have access to private markets, fee trends, and how recent financial-advisor regulation falls short.

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Our guest on the podcast today is Barbara Roper. She is director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America, where she has been employed since 1986. A leading consumer spokesperson on investor protection issues, Roper has conducted studies of abuses in the financial planning industry, state oversight of investment advisors, state and federal financial planning regulation, financial planning software, financial education needs of low-income older persons, the information preferences of mutual fund shareholders, systemic risk regulation, and securities law weaknesses as a cause of the financial crisis. She has testified frequently before Congress and has supported federal and state legislative and regulatory initiatives on a broad range of investor protection issues. Roper is a member of the SEC's Investor Advisory Committee, Finra's Investor Issues Group, and the CFP Board's Public Policy Council and Standards Commission.

Background
Barbara Roper bio
Micah Hauptman bio
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Federation of America, Investor Protection Division

State of Investor Protections Today
"The Laws That Govern the Securities Industry"

Investment Company Act of 1940

Investment Advisers Act of 1940

Growth of Private Market
"Looking Behind the Declining Number of Public Companies," by Les Brorsen, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, May 18, 2017.

"Where Have All the Public Companies Gone?" by the Bloomberg.com editorial board, April 9, 2018. 

Accredited Investor definition

Concept Release on Harmonization of Securities Offering Exemptions, Securities and Exchange Commission.

Letter from Consumer Federation of America to SEC Regarding Concept Release on Harmonization of Securities Offering Exemptions, by Barbara Roper and Micah Hauptman, Oct. 1, 2019.

"Private-Equity Funds in 401(k) Plans?" by John Rekenthaler, Morningstar.com, July 9, 2019. 

"SEC's Proposal on Private Placements Isn't Backed by Data," by the InvestmentNews editorial board, Aug. 31, 2019. 

Investment Fees
"2018 Morningstar Fee Study Finds That Fund Prices Continue to Decline," by Adam McCullough, CFA, Morningstar.com, April 30, 2019. 

"Money Flowed to the Cheapest Funds in the Third Quarter," by Tom Lauricella and Gabrielle Dibenedetto, Morningstar.com, Oct. 18, 2019.

"That Investment Fees Are Falling Is a Popular Narrative, But It's Not the Whole Story," by Tom Bradley, Financial Post, April 4, 2019.

"401(k) Plan Quality Correlates with Company Profits," by Anne Tergesen, The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 17, 2018.

"How High Is Too High for 401(k) Fees?" Consumer Reports, Dec. 31, 2018.

Consumer Federation of America on SEC Proposal Regarding Fee Disclosure in Mutual Fund Point-of-Sale and Confirmation Documents, April 21, 2004.

Fund Democracy and Consumer Federation of America letter to the Employee Benefits Security Administration Regarding Fee Disclosure for Individual Accounts, July 24, 2007. 

Disclosure
"House Approves Bill Requiring SEC to Test Investor Disclosures," by Mark Schoeff Jr., InvestmentNews, Oct. 17, 2019. 

Speech by SEC Commissioner Cynthia Glassman, Nov. 4, 2005. 

Investment Advice
"House Members Urged to Vote Yes on Bill to Improve SEC Disclosure Effectiveness," Consumer Federation of America, Oct. 11, 2019.

SEC Proposed Regulation Best Interest

Regulation Best Interest definition

"SEC Passes Regulation Best Interest, but Fiduciary Rules Could Make a Comeback," by Andrew Welsch, Financial Planning, June 5, 2019. 

"SEC's Regulation Best Interest Comes Under Attack," by Melanie Waddell, ThinkAdvisor, Sept. 24, 2019. 

"What Investors Need to Know About Regulation Best Interest," by Aron Szapiro, Morningstar.com, June 14, 2019. 

The SEC's Best-Interest Proposal: What We Told Regulators," by Aron Szapiro, Morningstar Blog, Aug. 8, 2018. 

Form CRS Relationship Summary; Amendments to Form ADV, SEC.gov. 

"SEC's New Customer Relationship Form Confuses Consumers," by Melanie Waddell, ThinkAdvisor, Sept. 13, 2018.

Retirement
"Court Overturns Obama-Era Rule on Retirement Planners," by Tara Siegel Bernard, The New York Times, March 16, 2018. 

"Think Your Retirement Plan Is Bad? Talk to a Teacher," by Tara Siegel Bernard, The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2016. 

"Teachers and Annuities: A Questionable Match and a Hard Product to Shed," by Ron Lieber, The New York Times, March 16, 2018. 

"The Annuity Trap Teachers Need to Avoid," by Leslie P. Norton, Barron's, May 25, 2019. 

"SEC Probes Practices in Public-Sector Retirement Plans," Barron's, Oct. 9, 2019.

"Legislation That Aims to Help Workers Save," by Aron Szapiro, Morningstar.com, April 12, 2019. 

"House Passes SECURE Retirement Bill With Massive Bipartisan Support," by Greg Iacurci, InvestmentNews, May 23, 2019. 

"What the New Retirement Bill Means for Savers and Retirees," by Reshma Kapadia, Barron's, May 26, 2019.