The Wall Street Journal published an article by Jason Zweig and Andrea Fuller on August 31, 2020 explaining their analysis of how financial advisers fell short in meeting their obligations to disclose important information to individual investors like you. The Wall Street Journal analyzed the filings made by investment advisers on the SEC Form CRS. The article and analysis revealed what seems to be disturbing lack of candor by investment advisers.
It is fundamental to full and fair disclosure that if an individual investor wants to know whether their financial adviser, or a financial adviser they want to hire, has any legal or regulatory problems, that this information is easy for an investor to obtain. To that end, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) sought to simplify the process by which an individual investor can access this information. The result of the SEC’s efforts was the “Form CRS.” “CRS” stands for customer (or client) relationship summary.
This information has been available. However, for the average “Main Street” individual investor, the information was not easy to find. And when the customer complaint and regulatory history was found, the disclosures were difficult to understand. The Form CRS was intended to address this complexity and difficulty through simplification. Thus, the SEC created what SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in November 2018 would be a “clear and concise” document. I think they succeeded. Wall Street, however, failed.