NEW YORK - Raymond James executive Chet Helck called for a year of working to restore public trust and confidence in the financial services industry, economy and nation at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association annual conference on Tuesday.
Helck, who serves as chief executive of Raymond James’ Global Private Client Group, has also just taken on a new role as chair of SIFMA’s board. In his address to approximately 800 attendees at the SIFMA event in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, he emphasized the emotion that now comes with the industry’s reputation in mainstream culture.
“Let’s face it, feeling good about being in our business has been a challenge lately. We know that it’s hard to do our job in this environment. We know that sometimes it doesn’t feel good at the end of the day,” Helck said. “The thing is, we know that we do good, but does anybody else believe that?”
Helck said the public is often unaware of the dramatic positive impact that the financial services industry has on society. That comes as the industry employs nearly 8 million people nationally, helped inject $425 billion to help build roads, hospitals and schools last year and has helped businesses raise $1.6 trillion to create new jobs and fuel economic growth, he said.
“We know we do good, but the fact is that Main Street doesn’t always appreciate that,” Helck said.
Resolving how the industry is perceived should come from a two-part effort, Helck said, by emphasizing risk management and also transparency.
Risk management should be accounted for in all aspects of financial services, Helck said, from buying an emerging market ETF to extending a small business loan to underwriting a mortgage.
“Each of us as leaders within our organizations have to know what we’re investing in, what risks we’re taking, and we must manage it carefully,” Helck said. “Regulators will define the new parameters, but at the end of the day, it’s each of us who’s ultimately responsible for ensuring we regularly review our practices, understand the risks we’re taking and advising our clients to take.”
And financial services professionals must follow those risk management efforts by making sure all client investors understand all of the possible risks and conflicts of interests that come along with an investment decision.
“We cannot and should not expect individual investors to differentiate among the myriad of rules that currently govern financial advice, nor can we expect investors to read reams of paper before making a decided and considered decision,” Helck said.
Those priorities tie in with Raymond James’ policy called “service first,” Helck said, that puts the highest priority on the client, and has ultimately resulted in the best outcome for the firm’s shareholders and community as well. Raymond James recently reported its 98th consecutive quarter of profitability, he said.
And any efforts that the financial services industry puts forth must also tie in with new regulation reforms that may potentially help or harm the industry.
“We all agree that regulation is necessary, but more regulation does not equal better regulation,” Helck said. “Since the beginning of the legislative process, we have advocated for regulations that make sense, ones that are principle based and cost effective, ones that reduce systemic risk and ensure financial services industry remains a driver of economic growth and job creation.”
Regulation was also the focus of SIFMA President and CEO T. Timothy Ryan, Jr.’s speech on Tuesday morning, where he lauded efforts that would improve investor protection, transparency and the resolution of troubled firms. But Ryan also expressed disapproval of legislation that is extraneous and unrelated to the financial crisis, particularly the Volcker Rule.
Ryan also called for better coordination and timing as agencies work to establish rules that will govern the financial services industry for years to come.
“It’s time to step back, review what we are trying to accomplish, and find a better approach to getting it done,” Ryan said. “Banking and securities activities are critical to economic growth. We cannot afford conflicting and overlapping rules proposals which produce extended uncertainty for everyone in the economy.”
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