It is hypocritical for John White to be so disparaging of broker-dealers (“Regulating Muni FAs: A Solution in Search of a Problem,” Dec. 7, 2009) when his firm, PFM Group, is so closely aligned with the very dealers he criticizes.
Earlier this year PFM accepted a major investment from a private-equity fund whose principal investors include units of a number of banks and broker-dealers.
Moreover, PFM itself owns PFM Fund Distributors Inc., which is registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority as a broker-dealer and with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board as a municipal securities dealer.
PFM’s broker-dealer is the distributor for PFM’s mutual fund business, whose target customers are states and localities.
In that context, statements such as “We have no conflicts of interest” are questionable at best, and referring, as he does, to “broker-dealers’ greed” is inappropriate and disingenuous.
There have been numerous examples in recent years where poor advice provided by unregulated financial advisers who were unqualified or were operating with undisclosed conflicts of interest has resulted in bad outcomes for issuers.
The time for bringing financial advisers under federal regulation is past due, and Congress is appropriately moving to remedy the problem.
Managing Director, SIFMA