Analyzing a Troubling Wall Street Double Standard

Veteran Wall Street journalist Dan Jamieson recently shed light on yet another troubling example of the impotency of Wall Street’s regulatory system. Jamieson called our attention to the industry’s double-standard when it comes to regulatory matters involving employers/firms versus employees/registered persons.

In Goldman, Stanford Highlight Disclosure Problems, Some Say (InvestmentNews May, 2, 2010) Jamieson reports that:

The SEC’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs’ broker-dealer unit and recent revelations about fraud at Stanford Financial Group show how weaknesses in the disciplinary reporting system allow serious problems at firms to go unreported, according to some in the industry.

They also highlight the fact that firms and brokers are held to a different standard, which is “patently unfair,” according to Bill Singer, a shareholder in the law firm Stark & Stark. Investors can be harmed by having less information about firms than they have about brokers, he said.
When the Securities and Exchange Commission announced fraud charges against The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. last month over the structuring and marketing of a synthetic mortgage bond, the firm took heat for not disclosing that it had received a Wells notice last June. A Wells notice is a formal warning from a regulator that it intends to file charges.

Goldman Sachs brushed aside the criticisms, saying that it is up to the firm to decide whether proposed charges warrant disclosure, based on whether they constitute material information that could affect the publicly held firm’s stock price. . . .

Members Only

For years, I have complained about the disparate (and preferential) treatment afforded to self-regulatory organization (SRO) member firms by their regulator. Those member firms have the exclusive right to vote on SRO rule proposals and for elective offices, which gives them significant influence over the rule-making process and the direction of the SRO’s regulatory policies. Contrast that influential member firm role with that of the the hundreds of thousands of registered persons employed by those same member firms — no vote whatsoever is granted to any registered person. Those who do Wall Street’s work are denied the vote on any rule proposal or elective office.

Why is all the power solely vested in the member firms but none with the men and women of the industry?

To read the rest of Bill Singer’s commentary on the this topic, follow the link to the Broke and Broker blog.

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About the Author

Bill Singer

About the Author
Bill Singer is an outspoken critic of ineffective regulation and an advocate for Wall Street reform. Singer provides legal counsel to securities-industry firms, registered persons, whistleblowers and defrauded investors. He has represented clients before regulatory organizations, during criminal investigations, and in Congressional investigations. Singer is the Street Legal columnist for Registered Rep. magazine; a featured columnist for; and a member of the Forbes Intelligent Investing All-Stars Panel. He regularly appears as a commentator on television and radio, and is frequently quoted in the press. Since 1989, Singer has been affiliated with law firms as a partner/shareholder whose private practice focuses on securities-industry matters. He is presently a shareholder in the Securities Practice Group of the law firm of Stark & Stark (offices in New York: New York City; in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Newtown; and New Jersey: Marlton and Lawrenceville/Princeton). Follow the link to view Bill Singer's complete resume. Bill Singer is a syndicated featured columnist for Corporate Compliance Insights whose articles tackle issues dealing with Wall Street. Follow the link to view all of Bill Singer's articles on Wall Street and issues dealing with financial compliance.