The SEC marked the 75th anniversary of the landmark Investment Advisers Act and Investment Company Act with a day-long conference at its headquarters in Washington.
Throughout the event, a host of current and former regulators, industry luminaries, academics and others considered the impact of those two statutes on RIAs and the fund industry.
So what did they have to say? Read a few choice quotes from the event or see the slideshow version here. -- Kenneth Corbin
Boston University law professor and fiduciary expert Tamar Frankel on the legacy of the 1940 statutes:
"The consequences of these two acts are quite impressive. They created a fiduciary culture -- an ongoing concern about trustworthiness that has stayed with us to this very day."
SEC Chairman Mary Jo White, on the balancing act the laws have created for regulators:
"With these pivotal acts in our arsenal, the commission continues to enhance, strengthen and adapt its regulatory programs in response to an evolving asset-management landscape. Over the last 75 years, commissioners and staff have worked tirelessly to regulate funds and advisors while also allowing for innovation, and the industry has provided important input to shape our regulations."
Former SEC Chairman Richard Breeden, a free-market advocate, on the importance of some baseline regulation to oversee advisors and asset managers:
"As a proponent of less regulation and sensible and balanced regulation, that the totally unregulated holding of someone else's money is called theft, and we should be careful about that on a mass scale."
Vanguard founder Jack Bogle, on the proliferation of niche funds in the asset-management industry, warning that they create unnecessary risks for investors:
"The opportunities are there today, but I'm not sure I like it. I'm not sure I approve of it. I think we need a little bit less entrepreneurship in this business and a little less innovation. We like to say at Vanguard that we put the 'no' back in 'innovation.'"
Morningstar Managing Director Don Phillips, on investors' often irrational approach to the markets:
"Encouraging that longer-term perspective ... is one of the best things we can do for investors," Phillips says. "At the end of the day I truly believe we're all in the behavior modification business, and unfortunately people are just wired wrong to be investors. We're much too short-term oriented. We're much too action-prompted. We overreact to events and it's all stuff that just genetically keeps us from succeeding in the market."
Former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt on the shortcomings of the disclosure regime for advisors and funds:
"Right now the purpose of disclosure in my view seems to be providing defense lawyers with defenses for potential liability, as opposed to helping investors understand what's important and providing additional information that investors can easily access but aren't burdened with in terms of reading some of the quite lengthy documents."
Rick Fleming, the SEC's investor advocate, cautioning about the need to protect unsophisticated fund investors:
"Mutual funds service the most inexperienced type of investor, so that means that there's a heightened need for protection in that space even more now than there was in 1940 when these acts were first adopted."
Jameson Baxter, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Putnam Mutual Funds, on the role of a fund company's independent board:
"Our charge is really to put our arms around the business and not our hands into the business. It's a delicate balance."
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