You’ve been duped…

Another day, another investment adviser seemingly guilty of duping a client.  So is the case today as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it has charged Jeremy Drake, a financial adviser, with overbilling a high profile client by as much as $1.2 million in fees.  It is sad that after all of these instances of investment adviser fraud or theft, the SEC has yet to implement a more rigorous registration or qualification process for investment advisers, namely financial advisers.  As of today, anyone can populate a form on the SEC’s website (Form ADV) and truthfully (or not) answer various questions about the proposed investment advisory services, products, and firm structure and voila, be registered to provide investment advice to the public.  Granted, the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and other federal and state laws have been implemented to achieve investor protection but given that the SEC only annually performs on-site reviews of about 10% of investment advisers registered with the SEC, there is the chance that an adviser could be operating unchecked for many years.  And without sufficient supervision, that adviser could harm hundreds if not thousands of clients.  It is about time that Congress established a tighter framework to help mitigate the fraudulent duping in the investment management industry.

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