May 8, 2021
New SEC Chair Gensler recently testified before Congress on the "gamification" of Wall Street, which he worries is manipulating investors into unwise investing. Guest blogger Aegis Frumento sort of agrees with Gensler's concerns but only to a point -- and that point is where well-intentioned government regulation tends to take on aspects of a Nanny State in which our free will gets overwhelmed. As Aegis sees it, gamification plays with our minds, puts our weak wills in a spotlight, and the glare hurts. And that's the rub, for our laws deal in facts, not mind games, and gamification is only about mind games.
Some eight years ago, two Raymond James reps decided to work together. Apparently, a goal of the work relationship was to facilitate the contemplated retirement of one of the reps. Then someone may (or may not have) jumped offsides, and the ball was fumbled during the lateral, and then an offensive player picked up the fumbled ball and ran it in for a score -- looking at the field of play, however, we got one ref walking off five yards for an offsides penalty but we got another ref with raised arms calling a touchdown. Same play. Same game. Two different calls.
There's Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. There's Raymond James & Associates, Inc. You even got the Raymond James Stadium. That's a lot of Raymond Jameses -- that's a lot of Ray Jay. Sometimes having a number of subsidiaries and affiliates share a name in a big organization is a good thing. It's called branding. On the other hand, sometimes re-using a brand can cause confusion. Finally, a federal appellate court tries to explain that what's temporary (as in a restraining order) may prove to be a somewhat unappealing bit of permanence.
Imagine that you got a stockbroker. Imagine that you got an elderly customer. Imagine that the client drafts a Will. Now imagine how the intersection of the stockbroker and customer could raise all sorts of troubling issues and how difficult it becomes to police potential misconduct or prevent abuse. What's the best regulatory approach? What's the best compliance policy? What happens when a customer sincerely wants to bestow a benefit upon a stockbroker via a bequest? What if the stockbroker never had a clue? What if the stockbroker did?