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Securities industry lobbyist Ira Hammerman disputes Ron Rhoades claim broker-dealers may restrain trade by threatening to boycott states with local fiduciary rules

The SIFMA executive vice president and general counsel says neither his organization, nor its constituents, runs afoul of anti-trust laws

Thursday, June 20, 2019 – 2:37 AM by Guest Columnist Ira Hammerman
Ira Hammerman: His column ignores entirely the merits of SIFMA’s recent comments about fiduciary regulatory initiatives. [Photo by LAI Video.]

Dating back to 1912, through its predecessor organizations and in its current form, SIFMA has been the leading trade association for broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers operating in the U.S. and global capital markets.

On behalf of the industry’s nearly 1 million employees, SIFMA advocates on legislation, regulation and business policy, affecting retail and institutional investors, equity and fixed income markets and related products and services, and it serves as an industry coordinating body to promote fair and orderly markets, informed regulatory compliance and efficient market operations and resiliency.

The suggestion in the recent RiABiz piece by guest columnist Ron Rhoades, concerning local fiduciary rules for financial advisors, that SIFMA has somehow veered from those pro-competitive principles is uninformed and wrong. 

Based on only rank speculation, Mr. Rhoades suggests that the efforts of industry participants--individually and through established and respected trade groups like SIFMA and FSI--to inform state policymakers about the potential unintended consequences of local fiduciary rules could reflect a violation of the antitrust laws.  

But his column ignores entirely the merits of SIFMA’s recent comments about fiduciary regulatory initiatives (which it provided in response to the request from policymakers for such feedback), and fails to even mention the central theme of those comments – that fiduciary standards should be consistent with the objectives of serving investors and providing them with meaningful financial advisor options.  

Although he ignores that core premise and despite recognizing that “[t]rade associations, such as SIFMA and FSI, can serve important purposes,” he nonetheless suggests that SIFMA’s participation in these public policy discussions should “face a high degree of scrutiny” because it “may restrain trade.”

This speculation has no basis in fact or law.  SIFMA has a very long history of being productively engaged in providing important and useful information to policymakers about a broad range of issues and will continue to do so through advocacy efforts that are rigorously consistent with both the First Amendment rights of its members and the antitrust laws.  

So, lest our silence be misconstrued as acquiescence, SIFMA stands firmly and fully behind both the value and integrity of its advocacy efforts and views Mr. Rhoades’ suggestions to the contrary as reckless and unfounded.  

Ira Hammerman is executive vice president and general counsel of SIFMA in Washington, DC

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