Investors are "unacceptably confused" by the various titles used by securities professionals so the Securities and Exchange Commission must clarify the distinctions.
   That was the recent comment of Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
   "The SEC has failed to define the distinction between advisors and brokers. The commission has some unfinished business," Roper told the New York Stock Exchange Regulation's First Annual Securities Conference recently.
   "We hope that the commission will recognize that this just can't be allowed to continue," she told a panel on rebuilding ethics and compliance standards in the securities industry.
   Roper also complained about registered reps receiving higher payouts for proprietary products. She suggested that the SEC should ban the practice just as the commission had recently ended directed brokerage.
   She added that requiring more disclosure of bigger proprietary payouts at the point of sale is not a recommended step. This kind of reform would be "just too complex," she said. The SEC should take steps now on title clarifications and proprietary payout standards before there is another scandal in the securities industry, Roper warned.

-Gregory Bresiger