Monday, August 3, 2009

Will Stockbrokers Exist After This Generation?

FINRA reports that registered reps have seen their job numbers dwindle. 25,810 reps have lost their jobs. Registered Rep magazine reports Smith Barney--now Morgan Stanley Smith Barney following its sale from Citigroup saw its number of financial advisers fall 17% 1Q 2009.

A broker can be a "mentor" for investors to guide them. Others hold out less hope for brokers. In a Forbes article, Bill Singer foresees stock brokers not existing after this generation and instead the market will have commission-paid phone operators who dole out information. If there are going to be brokers and other investment advisers in the future, Singer advocates each professional to take exams with more emphasis on product knowledge and CE than on one's ability to make cold calls. Since the retail investor doesn't often know the difference between a financial consultant and a financial adviser, Singer wants to eliminate those distinctions. More at Forbes' Intelligent Investing Panel.

Read here to see someone disagree: who writes to announce the death knell of the advice business is as ludicrous as saying there will no longer be a demand for teachers or doctors. Are educational or medical websites robust and helpful enough to do away with those professions? How about self-diagnosing and self-medicating in times of illness?
The Reformed Broker also tackles the claim that most investors will just do it themselves: "We were told that online brokerages would be the death of the full-service broker in 1999. Most of those online brokerages have since disappeared or have been swallowed up and the ones remaining now charge zero dollars or so for trade execution. Nice business model:E*Trade’s stock looks like Mickey Rourke’s face, currently hovering around a buck, with flies buzzing around it’s sunken eye sockets. Read more at The Reformed Broker.

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