Report From SIA’s Boca Bash

The Securities Industry Association’s annual bash is going on as planned, although the agenda was altered after Sept. 11. To no one’s surprise, the mood at the Boca Raton, Fla., convention is a bit more somber than in years past, with a crowd of about 450 industry executives in attendance, down from about 750 for the past five or six years. But outgoing SIA Chairman Mark Sutton, PaineWebber’s retail

The Securities Industry Association’s annual bash is going on as planned, although the agenda was altered after Sept. 11.

To no one’s surprise, the mood at the Boca Raton, Fla., convention is a bit more somber than in years past, with a crowd of about 450 industry executives in attendance, down from about 750 for the past five or six years. But outgoing SIA Chairman Mark Sutton, PaineWebber’s retail chief, said he considers the event an important step toward returning to a normal life.

“We were running on adrenaline there for a while,” he told RR after a media briefing this morning. He called the mood of attendees “realistic, but optimistic.”

The SIA debated whether to hold this year’s conference in light of the events of Sept. 11. Going forward “was exactly the right decision,” said Sutton. “I’m thrilled with how many people are here.”

A half-day session this Saturday was curtailed, however. The convention ends tomorrow.

Events have changed the SIA’s agenda as well. Priorities such as regulatory reform have taken a back seat to new initiatives such as the formation of a “business continuity” committee that will be established within the SIA to set standards for disaster recoveries, said SIA President Marc Lackritz. Details of that new committee are expected Friday.

The SIA will also see a changing of the guard in 2002, when Sutton will step down as chairman and be replaced by Allen Morgan Jr., chairman and CEO of broker/dealer Morgan Keegan. Morgan will address the crowd Friday morning in a presentation called “Vision for 2002.”

Separately, the SIA unveiled two new surveys this morning -- one addressing investor confidence and another on ethnic diversity in the securities industry.

In the 2001 investor confidence survey, conducted for the SIA by Harris Interactive before and after Sept. 11, roughly 91% of the 1,646 investors interviewed said they were somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive from their brokers, down from 95% for the three previous three years. And 41% said they were very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their investment performance in 2001, down from 65% in 2000.

About 43% of investors said they would change their investment decisions in 2001 if they could go back in time. “I would have been a little more vigilant in my contact with my broker,” said one respondent.

The SIA’s diversity survey shows that 14.7% of all brokers are women, up from 12.2% when the survey was last conducted in 1999. Ethnic minorities account for 6.6% of the registered rep sales force at the SIA member firms who responded to the survey, up from 3.7%.

Several SIA conference speakers also offered encouragement. Former British Prime Minister John Major, who delivered a passionate rallying cry for the war against terrorism in his keynote presentation Wednesday evening, said he expects the U.S. economy to rebound in the Spring of 2002, as long as oil prices remain stable. Jeffrey Applegate, chief investment strategist at Lehman Bros., said the stock market bottomed out Sept. 21, and he expects the recession to end in March.

“Enjoy the rally,” he told the crowd.

Editor's note: For any comments regarding this article, or to suggest a story idea for RR Online or Registered Representative magazine, contact Editor in Chief Dan Jamieson at [email protected], Online Editor Rick Weinberg at [email protected], Online Managing Editor Cheryl Cooper at [email protected] or Senior Editor Michael Hayes at [email protected]

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