On Wall Street it's called hiding the weenie. Never heard of it? Good for you. It's slang for when brokers deliberately try to bury the expenses and fees from a lient during a mutual fund sale.
Those who play such games should be sweating; regulators have been swooping in on broker/dealers to spot check mutual fund sales supervision since last winter, and at least two firms have been entangled (see page 20). But other financial advisors have no fears. It all depends where you fall on the investment advisory continuum.
On the far left is the Series 7 license. Those are people who are happy buying and selling stocks and bonds for their clients. They do little else. At the other end of the spectrum stands the full-on financial planner, the person who holds a Series 65 and is a registered investment advisor. This professional has a fiduciary responsibility to his clients. And in the middle — and this is where it gets tricky — sits the investment advisor, a person who holds a Series 7 but engages in managed accounts and some asset-allocation decisions. Is he beholden to a fiduciary standard, in which the client's interests come absolutely first? Or is it something less stringent — a salesman of money managers?
Some advisors do all three roles for clients. Given that arbitration cases are climbing (the number one charge? Breach of fiduciary duty), advisors would be wise to remind clients which hat they are wearing.
Calling All Sales Assistants
Who is the straw that stirs the brokerage cocktail? Why it's the sales assistant, of course. In our October issue — which, in publishing time, is right around the corner — we will be featuring a handful of the country's best sales assistants. To nominate someone from your office, please email me a short letter, telling me all about the person (duties and the like) and why she/he is indispensable. Please offer anecdotes of the assistant's on-the-job prowess. We will review the submissions and contact the winners by mid-August.
Just as important to the SA profiles, is the data that we collect from you in our annual sales assistant survey. The survey is anonymous and is meant to gather basic data, such as duties, training and compensation.
How to participate? This month, subscribers who filled out a subscription card and indicated their position as “sales assistant” will automatically receive an email survey that takes just minutes to complete. Again, the results of the survey are anonymous, and the survey is web-based. A quick visit from you helps us to give you back some useful data.
We thank you for your support. Drop us a line with your comments at: 249 W. 17th St., New York, N.Y. 10011-5300. Or email us at [email protected]. Publisher Rich Santos can be reached at [email protected].