Good column by Ron Rhoades on RIABiz.com, in which he predicts what types of financial reforms might come out of Congress in the current session. He echoes some concerns we’ve raised (emphasis added):
There are many parts of the overall financial services reform legislation that are incremental improvements over what we have today, and which should be supported. I hope the upcoming amendments will address “too big to fail” and reduce the perverse compensation incentives which tend to drive improper risk-taking activities.
I am deeply troubled, however, by the lack of oversight of all credit default swaps and other forms of derivatives. There are likely to remain many gaps in regulation which can continue to be exploited.
Additionally, much of the bill appears to fragment, rather than to consolidate, banking regulation. Regulation needs to be robust – to paraphrase James Madison, if securities industry participants were all angels, regulation would not be needed. But regulation also needs to be efficient. Our country cannot afford inefficient regulation of the same functional areas through duplicative, often over-lapping agencies.
This point, on disclosure as panacea, was particularly interesting, and lends some support to our call (and others’) for bringing basic financial education (legal might be a good idea too) into primary education:
The fundamental problem is that the SEC continues to emphasize disclosure above all else. While I support better disclosures of compensation practices and conflicts of interest, we must be realistic in what disclosure can accomplish. Disclosures are usually ineffective, as research into behavioral biases has demonstrated.
Today the financial world is far more complex for consumers than it was in 1940. Hence, disclosures utterly fail to overcome the huge “knowledge gap” between financial advisors and their clients.
The full column is available here: http://www.riabiz.com/a/748005?subscribed=true