Broker/Advisor Disguise and Deception

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Advisor disguise, the "GRAND DECEPTION"

Postby admin » Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:34 pm

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Jul 5, 2012 INVESTING
Should You Go to an Adviser or an Advisor?


Associated Press The New York Stock Exchange

Long ago, investors bought stocks from “customer’s men,” who then became “registered representatives,” who in turn morphed into “investment adviser representatives.” Financial planners, meanwhile, became “financial advisers” and even “wealth managers.”

Much like garbagemen rechristening themselves “sanitation engineers,” the folks who flog investments are tweaking their titles to make what they do seem fancier and more impressive than it is.

Stockbrokers and financial planners alike have been migrating, en masse, from the word “adviser” to the alternative, subtly-more-impressive spelling advisor. (When you type advisor in WordPress, as I just did, the software underlines it with red sawteeth, signaling that the word is misspelled. Most dictionaries say either spelling is acceptable.)

What’s remarkable about this is that the federal law that regulates the provision of financial advice is called the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, with an “E,” not an “O.” Both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which oversee how investments are sold to the public, call someone who gives financial advice an “adviser” – not an “advisor.”
Why, in a regulated industry, would you choose to be called something other than what the law that regulates you calls you?

Lexicographer Barry Popik tells me that a search of the Library of Congress’s site, Chronicling America, for the years 1836 to 1922 shows that the word “advisers” returns 875,830 hits, versus just 21,145 for “advisors.”

And the Corpus of Contemporary English, reports Popik, shows more than 5,200 citations for “advisers” but just under 2,000 for “advisors.”

On the other hand, search now at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and you will find more than 3,800 companies with “Advisors” in their name, vs. well under 300 that call themselves “Advisers.”

So, it seems, the written language overall has long appeared to favor “adviser” over “advisor,” but financial companies have a strong preference for calling themselves advisors.


There may be something about the “-or” suffix that lends it more gravitas than “-er.” A donor seems, somehow, more generous than a giver. An author is more dignified than a writer. An orator is more eloquent than a lecturer or speaker. When real-estate agents invented a moniker for themselves, they chose to become Realtors, not Realters.

Plus, if you are working on a master’s or doctorate, you will have an advisor for your thesis or dissertation, not an adviser. Many financial advisers crave the same kind of intellectual respectability – and marketability – that graduate degrees confer, which helps explain why they often collect professional designations enabling them to festoon their names with sets of initials.

We’ll know the field of financial advice has finally arrived as a profession when its practitioners accept how the law of the land says they should spell what they do – and when they stop trying to gussy it up with a spelling gimmick.

This article has been ethically "cleansed" from the WSJ, (thanks industry trade and lobby pressure:) helping to keep this one of the better kept secrets in the world today. The below article by a reputable financial expert on this topic may still be available:

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Advisor disguise, the "GRAND DECEPTION"

Postby admin » Sun Nov 09, 2014 7:29 pm

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MANISHA THAKOR: We are in deep need of a uniform, federal fiduciary standard of care to which every individual providing personalized financial-planning or investment advice must adhere.

What? You thought this was already the case?

You are not alone.
Most people do not realize that financial advisers (also known as financial planners, financial consultants, investment counselors, money managers, portfolio managers, wealth managers and other names) come in two flavors

Flavor A are “investment advisers”
who are regulated by the Investment Advisors Act of 1940. A key piece of this legislation is the mandate that such advisers adhere to a “fiduciary standard.” The act clearly defines this as a duty of loyalty and care to the client and states investment advisers must place the interest of the client ahead of their own.

Flavor B are “investment brokers,”
individuals who are employed by “broker-dealers” and who are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra). These individuals are governed by a “suitability standard.” The stated definition of loyalty here is to the broker-dealer (not the client!) and recommendations must simply be consistent with the client’s financial situation, not necessarily in their best interest.

Suitability is like going to a doctor whose practice is funded entirely by Big Pharma Company XY and who gets a commission for prescribing XY’s pills.
Suppose the migraine medication that works best for you is made by Big Pharma Company Z; if held to a suitability standard, the doctor could simply prescribe XY’s migraine pill without telling you about the conflict of interest or discussing the other alternatives.

Thankfully, we have one standard to which doctors are held. It’s time those giving advice on our financial well-being also be held to a consistent standard. For an eye-opening look at the fiduciary vs. suitability dichotomy at work, watch PBS’s Frontline episode on “The Retirement Gamble.”

Manisha Thakor (@ManishaThakor) is founder and chief executive of Santa Fe, N.M.–based MoneyZen Wealth Management LLC. ... d-brokers/
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Advisor disguise, the "GRAND DECEPTION"

Postby admin » Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:07 pm

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Calling a broker an adviser is dangerous. It's time to embrace the black-and- white distinction rather than trying to shove everyone into one gray box.

An 'adviser' in name only, INVESTMENT NEWS,
Sep 28, 2014 @ 12:01 am

Merill Lynch's recent termination of a team of top advisers because of allegations they had recommended that clients invest outside the firm raises issues other than “selling away.” Reporter Mason Braswell noted that selling securities without permission or processing them outside of a brokerage's platform violates firm policy and Financial Industry Reg- ulatory Authority Inc. rules.

But a bigger matter remains: If recommending that clients buy off a platform is in their best interest, but doing so is forbidden, an adviser in this situation cannot possibly act in a fiduciary capacity.

The question of whether all advisers should be held to a fiduciary standard becomes meaningless. They can't when the broker-dealer's interests bump up against the client's.

That, in turn, brings up a timely point. The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering whether to put all brokers and advisers under the same fiduciary standard, requiring that anyone offering retail investment advice work in the best interests of clients. Brokers currently are required to do only what is suitable for clients, and their loyalties ultimately lie with their company.

In objecting to a uniform fiduciary standard, some brokerages, insurers and advocacy groups have stressed that their business structure simply doesn't align with a straight fiduciary relationship and have asked for exceptions to always acting in a client's best interest.

How can a broker ultimately serve two masters, the company and the client? One must win out when there's a conflict. The fact is that brokers don't have to choose. It's when they call themselves advisers that things get tricky.

The SEC's directive is clear.

As Blaine F. Aikin explains in this issue's Fiduciary Corner column: “An often-overlooked fact is that anyone (even a broker) who provides personalized investment advice to investors is already subject to a fiduciary standard. This fact is generally ignored due to the SEC's failure to enforce the requirement established under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.”


The only exemption is when the broker is providing an arm's-length transaction and all parties involved know that.

If financial professionals present themselves as advisers when it's convenient to do so — on business cards and in marketing — but then don't uphold the position's fiduciary responsibility, the distinction is muddled and everyone loses.

So what's the alternative?

It's one thing to say that brokers acting in an advisory capacity should be fiduciaries and another to ask if they can accomplish that.

The fiduciary duty issue has gone nowhere in the nearly four years since the SEC originally had to report on the differences between adviser and broker oversight. A new way forward is called for.

The only solution is to call a spade a spade or, in this case, a broker a broker. There is room for brokers and advisers in this industry; both serve worthwhile functions.

But individuals and firms must be held accountable for the titles they use. A person providing advice not incidental to selling securities is an adviser and must act as a fiduciary. If the advice is ancillary to the sale of securities, that person is a broker.


A two-sentence disclosure at the beginning of a relationship (and accurate representation in marketing) would tell clients what they need to know and keep everything aboveboard: “I'm a broker, and my primary obligation is to my firm. I'll do the best I can for you within that structure.”

Where do dual registrants fit? When do they exchange one hat for the other?

Having donned the adviser hat in establishing a trust relationship with the client, it cannot be removed during transactional activity. The moniker — and its requirement to act as a fiduciary — must stand in all engagements with the client. Broker-dealers also must abide by this and let advisers act accordingly.

All parties would benefit from a stark distinction, a line in the sand. If advisers are working in a fiduciary capacity, no gray areas of loyalty exist — they must act in clients' best interest and not be reprimanded by firms for doing so.

Clients also would be better off, as firms could no longer imply a trust relationship where one doesn't legally exist.

Calling a broker an adviser is dangerous. It's time to embrace the black-and- white distinction rather than trying to shove everyone into one gray box. ... -name-only
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Broker/Advisor Disguise and Deception

Postby admin » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:40 am

Stan Buell.jpg
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The professional who is willing to violate his own duty of loyalty and care to his clients is "placing an obstacle before the blind".

Preamble to an article describing the worlds largest bait and switch fraud:
Stan Buell was the first to label it "The Grand Deception". He is an engineer by profession, and old school gentleman and a victim of financial abuse by financial professionals. Sometime after that I (Larry Elford) added the "disguise" term to my own description of this discovery. It only took him 17 years to uncover this deception, and for me, about 31 years of industry time to get to this hidden secret. My calculations add up approximately one trillion dollars, as the amount that has been scammed from Canadians using this disguise and deception over those three decades. US citizens have paid an unknown amount.

He began the Small Investor Protection Association in 1998 after seeing a need for an organization which was not captured and beholden to the financial industry, and whose sole mandate was to protect the public from acts of financial predation by the financial industry.

He learned the hard way that the banking and brokerage industry of the 21st Century is not at all the same as it was in the 20th Century. We feel it is perhaps the greatest risk to ordinary investors, who are simply not being told of the
two separate and distinct types of "advisor". One is a first class professional with a legal duty to follow hundreds of years of established "fiduciary" (sole duty of care to protect client) principles, and the sadly more common "advisor" of today is an advisor in name only, with powerful hidden loopholes with which to "do harm" to investment customers.
It is the best kept secret in the investment business today.

Here is a six minute video explanation of those LOOPHOLES updated December 3, 2014 as new information is gleaned.

For US investors who wish to see what the SEC understanding of the issue is, here is my look at the Advisor regulations, in a 7 minute glimpse. I call it the good, the bad and the ugly.

You would think that there is nothing at all new under the sun, by this time. After all, I began with my Canadian Securities Course in 1980, stayed in the business from 1984 to 2004, and researched it like a man possessed from 2004 to 2014. But no, we find that the most important ingredients in making money by subterfuge and misdirection…..those most important ingredients are kept quite hidden and secret. They are the "tricks of the trade" if you will, and these are what this entire "flogg" (forum/blog) has been about since 2004. The hidden tricks of the trade.

What is wrong with having tricks of the trade? After all, every trade has their secrets, and their methods of getting the job done faster, easier, better, from mechanics to bricklayers. Well, my trade was a profession, and one where I was taught that my customer's best interests must come first, that I must not use my skill and knowledge to my own personal benefit, but rather to their sole benefit. Little did I realize until well into the game, that the game was changing, right under my feet. Those at the top of the financial and regulatory game were sick of putting clients first and making money the "old fashioned way". They could "have it all and have it now", the motto of every addict, if only they took a few shortcuts...

“The FIDUCIARY standard of the "registered" investment advisER (note spelling) is clear, objective, and protective of the investor.   The lesser SUITABILITY standard of the self "titled" advisOR is vague, undefinable and subjective.  It allows investors to be sold nearly anything, as long as someone calls it an “investment".

This flogg has been about those shortcuts that financial professionals now take to "get rich quick". It is about using the "trust and integrity" earned by bankers of the last century, and selling out this trust and integrity for faster and faster rewards. My financial industry has become identical to a friends house-sitter experience of late, where a young recovering addict stayed at his house, while he visited the other side of the country for a month, and upon his return, found his TV and his snowblower had been stolen and pawned to feed an addiction…….that is the investment banker of today. Some are literally closer to addicts than professionals. My proof of such a statement is found in the article at the end of this intro.

A professional who is willing to violate his own duty of loyalty and care to his clients, and to use a biblical phrase from Peter Benedek, CFA, blog "placing an obstacle before the blind". The investment industry, outside of those with a rare degree of personal and professional self respect, are today specialists in placing obstacles before the blind, of using their talent and skills to take advantage of their customers, rather than to help them.

Here is one of the best ways how, and Stan has called it the GRAND DECEPTION:

And here is the article itself:
How Investment Dealers Mint an Army of Counterfeit Advisors to "Assist" You…..

“The FIDUCIARY standard of investment advice is clear, objective, and protective of the investor.   The SUITABILITY standard of care is vague, undefinable and subjective.  It allows investors to be sold nearly anything, as long as someone calls it an “investment". It can even mean selling the most expensive investment choice for compensation reasons.  Nearly every “advisor” and sponsoring dealer are bound only by the “suitability” standard.  This may be the greatest undisclosed risk facing investors today”

Just recently the creator of world famous DILBERT cartoons, Scott Adams, made this statement on CNBC about a risk ordinarily hidden from the public: “Beware financial advisors” is the tag line quoted from him. (video here:

I worked 20-plus years inside Canada’s top investment dealers and never was I able to hold a copy of my license or registration. This was always handled by the investment firm. I now better understand why, and I would like to share it with you.

First a warning: This article contains both facts and some of my own opinions. The facts are what they are, and many links are enclosed for readers to search, read and come to their own conclusions. My opinion is biased, and based on the following; I simply do not believe that professionals or persons who promise to act in a position of trust, should then be allowed to betray that trust, and take advantage of consumers. Please take whatever you can from this information and leave behind anything which you may not agree with. It is intended to create discussion.

Although rules and procedures about “client-first” behaviors seemed fairly clear cut, I also never found resolution to the question of whether sales came first, and trusted advice second, or the other way around. The deeds of the firms never quite matched the words or promises.

It was in 2013 when a conversation with Stan Buell, caused us both to step back and to question even our most basic beliefs about risks to investors financial health.

Stan was on the Investor Advisory Panel at the OSC (Ontario Securities Commission) and is the well respected founder of SIPA (Small Investors Protection Association of Canada 1998 )

Stan mentioned attending a gathering of regulators and overhearing two securities commission lawyers discuss spelling variations of “advisOR” verses “advisER”. This was years ago and it never occurred to either Stan or myself that something hidden in plain sight could form such a grand consumer deception. The thought of such simple trickery as spelling variations, was not something which had ever entered our minds for Canadian financial services providers.

We undertook over a year of research into those two key words, “advisor” and “adviser”, writing to, and getting clarification from U.S., as well as Canadian securities regulators. We learned that the difference in meaning is significant enough to cut the average investors retirement money by about half. The other half will be in the hands of the investment service provider.

Investors are being deceived and then shortchanged by the industry and regulatory blindness. Stan calls it The Grand Deception, and says he has never seen anything of quite this magnitude to harm investors in his two or more decades of investor protection work. And Stan has seen it all.

Most people would prefer to believe that "Adviser" and "Advisor" are simply spelling variations for the same word, with the same meaning. To imagine these tricks from some of the world’s most trusted financial institutions is simply too much for many to grasp. Cognitive dissonance is far preferable to such an ugly possibility.

The dictionary and some business newspapers help feed the myth (spelling differences, yet same meaning), but the question of whether or not they are identical “in law” remains hidden to investors.

The head of the SEC and the fine print at the CSA (Canadian Securities Administrators) is somewhat clearer on the facts, as this following example shows.

At this video link are 88 words in just over one minute from SEC Chair Mary Jo White, describing the differences in legal duties to clients between those legally registered as "adviser" and those who simply call themselves "advisor" (no legality, just an arbitrarily chosen “title”).

The following SEC INVESTOR BULLETIN came to me as I was writing this:
"Financial professional titles and licenses are not the same."

And then there is this from the CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU, an official website of the United States Government. They say this
""Financial advisers: don’t take their credentials at face value."

This is what the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) said recently when questioned:

“We do not prescribe specific titles to be used by those persons who are either dealing or advising in securities. Most securities legislation requires that an individual who holds themselves out as being registered to in fact be registered and to indicate the actual category of registration.”

Chris Besko 
Acting General Counsel & Acting Director for the CSA, Employed at the Manitoba Securities Commission

The comments in quotes above, seem to suggest both, that they do have rules...... and that they don’t follow those rules. Regulators in Canada seem quite blind to something as simple as deceit. Thankfully, civil courts are starting to recognize and award damages for this misrepresentation, but consumers should not be forced into civil court at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars and years out of their lives, to receive the industry required standards of “honesty, fairness, and good faith”.

Search the license or registration category of your “advice” giver here in Canada
CSA (Canada) If it says “dealing representative” you have a “salesperson” according to the CSA and not someone registered or responsible to act as “adviser” or “advisor”.

Search the license or registration category of your “advice” giver here in the USA
FINRA for US “Broker” search: If it says “broker” then you have a salesperson, regardless of what they prefer to use on the business cards.

Stan and I learned that the the trickery is in regulators letting commission sales-persons promise or imply to the public that they are registered or licensed as "Financial Advisors". By using the spelling variation not used in the Securities Acts of Canada or the USA, they seem able to imply the responsibility of a professional fiduciary Adviser, while carrying only the responsibility of a commission sales person.

I call this the “World’s Greatest Bait and Switch”, and I made a video to this effect even before working with Stan on spelling tricks. If you have been taken in by deception, this video may help describe what has taken place and shows info that some investors have used to get their money back. )

It (the Grand Deception) has less to do with spelling, and everything to do with what the spelling trick allows sellers and dealers to accomplish, namely the “implying” or “pretending” the attributes of a fiduciary (undivided professional loyalty to customer) whilst delivery of a “suitability” obligation only. (“suitable” is as vague and undefinable a standard as “edible”, “drinkable”, or “do-able”) See “suitability” loopholes explained here in a 2 minute video.

Or even worse, as Goldman Sachs and others were found out doing, figuring out to make even MORE money by putting clients into bad investments, selling toxic junk, in other words, and perhaps even shorting, or placing bets that the junk they sold would then crash. Becoming specialists in "placing obstacles before the blind".


Neil Weinberg, former Editor in Chief of American Banker Mag puts it into his own words in this OCT 18, 2013 article in American Banker Magazine:

“Financial Advisor Chicanery: Imagine a two-tiered health care system in which some doctors were legally obligated to do what's right for their patients and others, like snake-oil salesmen of yore, could recommend whatever treatments made them the most money, as long as they didn't kill patients outright.”

“Now imagine that the shysters did all they could to blend in with the real doctors. That's effectively the type of system we have today among the people Americans count on to tell them how to invest their life's savings. Registered investment advisors must, by law, put clients' interests first. Many thousands of other "advisors" at places like Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and smaller shops are held to a much lower "suitability" standard.”

“In essence, even though these people often refer to themselves as "financial advisors" or by some other comfort-inducing title, they're really glorified salesmen. Some do a great job serving their clients. Others don't. It's up to them. Under the law, as long as they avoid putting an 85-year-old widow into an exotic derivative with a 20-year lockup, they're bulletproof.”

“Few clients know this fiduciary-suitability gap exists. The suitability crowd has worked tirelessly to keep the standard low and the distinctions murky. The cost to the public is incalculable but huge.”
Full article is found here: ... 940-1.html

How much is the financial damage to the public?  Billions of dollars can be garnered each year by those who purport to hold a professional license/registration while neither holding the license nor the professional duty implied. This occurs today despite rules, laws regulators, and authorities who should be applying those rules to protect the public.

This one minute commentary from a victim of financial abuse by financial professionals is candid and accurate, according to our findings:

One illustration of the harm done by deceit is shown in a study by pension expert Keith Ambachsteer at the University of Toronto. Keith points out that retail Canadian mutual fund investors (those typically served by the “salesperson-advisor”) are receiving a “haircut” by the industry of 3.8% per year on mutual funds alone. When the report was written in 2007 this amounted to $25 billion each year taken from investors. Today, with nearly one trillion in mutual fund assets, this amount could be closer to $40 billion taken out of the life savings of Canadians.

Link to U of T study “The $25 Billion Dollar Pension Haircut”, here:

Whether you agree or not that a “spelling trick” (or such blatant "self" regulatory (IIROC) deception of the public) is even possible in Canada and the U.S. is not the point of this article. The point is.......for investors to understand whether or not their financial “advice giver” has a FIDUCIARY duty to them, or the legally vague, undefined, and self-determined “SUITABILITY” obligation. The difference is enough to easily cut your retirement in half. That is the million dollar question for every investor, and in my opinion it is the greatest, and best concealed risk the retail investor faces today.

Divided (and non-disclosed) loyalties, first to the investment dealer, second to commissions, third, finally to the client (some good advisors struggle to avoid this but are marginalized) are an investment risk that the investment industry is not yet ready to tell customers about, despite the requirement of “fairness, honesty and good faith”.

Without sufficient time or space in this article to get into solutions needed to right these wrongs, I refer readers who wish to go further to find the flogg topic titled “Solutions, Self Defense and Best Practices “ at this site .

I look forward to any readers joining me on Facebook or Twitter, where I try to use social media for social good.
Facebook is

Twitter is

Some well informed journalists and investment expert writings on this topic, for those who would like to obtain other perspectives:

Wall Street Journal
"Much like garbagemen rechristening themselves “sanitation engineers,” the folks who flog investments are tweaking their titles to make what they do seem fancier and more impressive than it is."

(article is now removed from WSJ site, but image here
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(wall street journal Blog article reposted here

American Banker Magazine
"even though these people often refer to themselves as "financial advisors" or by some other comfort-inducing title, they're really glorified salesmen. "

Financial Times
"Trust me, I am a financial advisor" is not good enough...

New York Times
"“The S.E.C. has been studying issues related to investment-adviser and broker-dealer regulation and overall market conditions for over 10 years,”

Washington Post
"...the SEC enforces the standards for fiduciaries — but brokers, aiming to head off more regulations, created the suitability rules themselves."

Wall Street Journal
"...Most people do not realize that financial advisers (also known as financial planners, financial consultants, investment counselors, money managers, portfolio managers, wealth managers and other names) come in two flavours."

The current regulatory environment creates perverse incentives that ultimately cost savers billions of dollars a year

Ron Rhoades Asst. Professor, Program Chair, Financial Planning Program, Alfred State College, Alfred, NY;
"As long as American consumers cannot discern between ethical actors (who adhere to a bona fide fiduciary standard at all times,…. and actors bound only by the weak suitability standard, the demand for financial planning and investment advice will stagnate. "

Huffington Post, What Wall Street Does Not Want You to Know
"….TV advertisements say their clients' interests always come first. But, reality says that is a huge lie."

CFA Peter Benedek reviews "Is Your Advisor Deceiving You?"
"The professional who is willing to violate his own duty of loyalty and care to his clients is "placing an obstacle before the blind".

Ron Rhoades Asst. Professor, Program Chair, Financial Planning Program, Alfred State College, Alfred, NY;
"I believe that holding yourself out as a trusted advisor, and not accepting fiduciary status and its burdens and restraints upon conduct, is tantamount to fraud."

Make advisors work for investors, Financial Post
"Anything else is fraud, because the seller is delivering a service different from what the consumer thinks he or she is buying. "
Edward Waitzer article, Financial Post · Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011) (Mr. Waitzer is a Bay Street Lawyer and former Securities Commission chair, and this quote ( by another person) appeared in his article. ... investors/

Dr Jin Choi, Ph.D.
"...allows a financial advisor to say, with a straight face, that financial advisers are obligated by law to have their clients' best interest at heart, and at the same time sell products that line their own pockets at the expense of the client." Former Hedge fund employee, Ph.D, blog
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Larry Elford is a former CFP, CIM, FCSI, Associate Portfolio Manager, retired from the financial services industry and lives in Alberta. He protects families and institutions from the hidden, systemic, risks of the financial industry.


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