As many of you know I founded The National Association of Investment Professionals (NAIP) as a not-for-profit in 1996, and resigned my position as CEO in 2006. Soon after, the Board, of which I was still part of, decided to dissolve NAIP as a non-profit. Why? Because I had decided to move on to other things including starting a new non-profit that was dedicated to promoting energy independence with renewable energy in my state of residence.
You see, I was the one who not only created NAIP, but I was also the one who started the initiatives to lobby Congress and the regulators to stop allowing the brokerage firms to defame brokers/advisers on their CRD through Rule 1150 . I was the one who stopped the defaming ads that on-line brokerage firms used to run against us in the late 1990’s by filing a Petition with the Federal Trade Commission to stop these ads.1 Within a month of filing that Petition, those negative ads had stopped.
In achieving much in way of protecting reps by preventing onerous regulations or media coverage I was successful. But I was always disappointed in the growth of the organization after ten years of trying. I feel that many people working in the industry didn’t think they needed to proactively work to change the industry for the better, that they instead reacted to negative things as they happened to them individually.
Why did I come back to raise the NAIP Phoenix from the ashes? In one of the last columns I wrote for Registered Rep Magazine in 2002 I warned people working in the industry that if they didn’t pressure Congress to strengthen the regulatory system that the dot.com and Enron scandals would seem mild by comparison, and that the industry and especially reps/advisers would in particular, be massively hurt by a major financial meltdown in the future.
This last year has proven my predictions correct. Who ever would have thought that there would no longer be a Bear Stearns or Lehman in our industry? Who among you ever would have thought that both Wachovia and especially Merrill Lynch would be bought and absorbed by banks? Did anyone think that Citi would ever sell for under $2.00 a share and that they would sell Smith Barney? Could anyone predict that the U.S. government would be bailing out the financial institutions at a cost of three plus trillion dollars… and growing ?
The financial industry chaos has created uncertainty as well as opportunity. I hope to help you navigate these treacherous waters to safer shores again. I believe my past experience and proven accomplishments in helping those in the industry will now be of benefit to you in this very troubling time.
How do I propose to do this? The first is to help you defensively.
I have heard massive reports from brokers and lawyers about how one bank is terminating brokers who used to work for them and have recently been re-employed by this bank through merger/acquisition. If these former employees were terminated before or owed money to this bank they are automatically being terminated even though they had been performing well at the firm that was bought.
This is but one example. There are many more. And, it is the reason why I made sure we brought back NAIP’s Attorney Referral Network. It was always our number one service and will continue to help you defend your business. Only lawyers who are experienced in employment/securities law and who have answered a questionnaire regarding their experience are put on our list. They also must agree to give you a 10% discount off their hourly fee.
There are a number of great services with NAIP membership to help you defend and even to re-build your business at a great cost, and there will be more added soon.
In closing, I must also add a final reason for my desire to come back and help you in any way I can during this tough time. I recently read in Investment News ( See: “Advisers want strong industry response to Madoff scandal”, January 5, 2009 , by Bruce Kelly), that 86% of advisers said they were looking to industry groups to provide a strong response to the negative publicity that Madoff brought to advisers. Yet, in that same article Duane Thompson of the Financial Planning Association stated that FPA has “no organized public relation campaign in response”. Personally, I don’t think that is a strategy that the FPA, or other membership organizations should adopt in light of the fact that in the same article they point out that 74% of investors in December of 2008 think that “Madoff’s behavior is common among financial advisers and institutions”. This attitude MUST be countered with a positive publicity campaign for reps and advisors!!
You need someone in your corner contacting the media about the positive things you do. We will be doing more publicity work as the organization grows in a variety of ways from organizing letter-writing campaigns to Congress on issues of import that you feel passionate about to contact people in the media I have worked with for over 12 years. The new NAIP will organize these campaigns as needed.
For now though, scan through the services we now provide to help you “protect and grow your business”. You will save hundreds of dollars in services over a years time, if not thousands, with the introductory rate of $39 - which is offered for a very limited time.
Finally, contact me if you need help or want to give me feedback on the new NAIP and website. Sign up for our newsletter even if you don’t join for now.
Thanks for visiting our site and good fortune to you in the future,
Thomas S. O’Keefe
Footnote: It has been said by some that by filing this Petition NAIP and brokers in general received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free POSITIVE publicity when it was so needed in the main stream media as the filing of this petition was picked up by The Associated Press and then by most media outlets