Last week, when a model broker-dealer fee disclosure was introduced by regulators and the financial services industry, investor advocates claimed it was not an end-all, be-all for transparency.
At least one of its creators agrees.
“This was a good place to start. Hopefully this will create a momentum for increased transparency with other fees,” said Judith Shaw, who was elevated from president-elect to president of the North American Securities Administrators Association when the guidelines were unveiled at NASAA’s annual meeting.
On Monday, she offered transparency into her own thinking and that of the examiners association, which she will lead for the coming year.
For nearly a quarter of a century, Shaw, who holds a law degree and a brown belt in karate, has had her hand in state regulation ranging from jobs with Maine attorney general’s office to the state’s department of insurance to her current day-job as Maine’s chief securities regulator.
Here are excerpts from a phone interview:
Financial Advisor: How do you respond to criticisms that the fee disclosure guidelines don’t cover commissions, investment advisory fees, 12b-1 fees and revenue sharing among fund families, broker-dealers and insurance companies?
Shaw: We need to take a first step to increase transparency. What we find here in our office in Maine, at least, is we get many inquiries about miscellaneous fees. People understand they are going to pay commissions and advisory fees, but they are often surprised when they learn they are being charged a fee for something like the transfer of an account on the death of a spouse.
Financial Advisor: What do you see as the role of individual state regulators and NASAA in regulating robo-advisors?
Shaw: Clearly, robo-advisors are going to be big enough to be registered by the Securities and Exchange Commission rather than the states. But while state regulators do not examine advisors with over $100 million in assets under management, we can monitor them for violations of state fraud laws. State securities regulators and NASAA will look at whatever background algorithms they are using to make sure they are in compliance.