Mutual fund fees to rile up both some financial industry insiders and outsides alike. Today Cognition Capital Management -- a registered investment advisor (RIA) based in Rowley, Massachusetts -- revealed that it has registered with the State of South Carolina as a "subversive organization" (a legally-required action apparently triggered by Cognition's criticism of various financial services firms, including some in which the federal government now invests.) One of Cogniton president Mitch Hardy's beefs is with 12b-1 fees.
In a petition on its own new www.WallStreetReformers.org site, Cognition calls for "the immediate ban of contingent deferred sales charges on mutual funds."
"The contingent deferred sales charge is but one particularly odious example of how the industry intentionally obfuscates investment transactions to deceive investors," Cognition's petition reads.
Cognition offers separately managed accounts, and Hardy recently co-authored the book Data Driven Investing with his portfolio manager, Bill Matson.
Company Press Release
ROWLEY, Mass., June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Cognition Capital Management, LLC (CCM) has registered with South Carolina as a subversive organization, as required by law.
Last month, CCM founded www.WallStreetReformers.org, which proffers a petition stating:
We support the extension of fiduciary responsibility standards – defined as utmost care, integrity, full disclosure, loyalty, and good faith – to all financial advisors, including stockbrokers and insurance agents…
We call on our legislators to repudiate the enormous, ongoing lobbying effort funded by securities broker/dealers and insurance companies that has allowed securities licenses to become virtual licenses to steal.
The vast majority of investors have been led to believe that their trusted advisors are obligated to put client interests first, but, in fact, no such law exists. The perpetuation of this falsehood is a fraud that dwarfs the combined efforts of Bernie Madoff, Bernie Ebbers, Ken Lay, and Dennis Koslowski. Year after year, the financial services industry extracts tens of billions of dollars from investors for products and services of dubious value – invariably under the guise of providing objective advice…
We support the immediate ban of contingent deferred sales charges on mutual funds.
Such charges allow salespeople to earn commissions from the sale of funds that are often misrepresented as being "no load" or "no load if held for five years." The stockbrokers who sell these funds might earn an upfront commission of 5% from the fund sponsor, who is typically reimbursed via a 1% annual charge (the 12b-1 fee) that gets deducted directly from the fund. Few investors have the time or expertise to comb through the lengthy and deliberately opaque prospectuses in which these annual charges are "disclosed." As a result, most remain unaware that they are essentially on the hook for a 5% sales commission no matter how long they own the fund.
The contingent deferred sales charge is but one particularly odious example of how the industry intentionally obfuscates investment transactions to deceive investors…
The ability to cheat clients with impunity is central to the workings of Wall Street, which is why the industry has fought so long and so hard against the extension of the fiduciary standard to all advisors...
All lawmakers, be they at the city, county, state, or federal levels, bear responsibility for ensuring that our capital markets support their legitimate purpose of facilitating commerce and investment in worthwhile ventures that grow our economy and create jobs, instead of allowing Wall Street to go on being the rapacious, dysfunctional parasite it has become in recent years.
CCM is a registered investment advisor that has become an outspoken advocate for Wall Street reform. States Mitch Hardy, CCM's president, "We have shown that it is possible to succeed in this business while always putting our clients' interests ahead of our own. You don't have to cheat your clients to make money if you have the skill to earn good returns honestly."
CCM's criticism of Wall Street began with the publication of Matson and Hardy's 500-page, groundbreaking book, Data Driven Investing, and now is targeted at a number of firms with significant federal government ownership, which makes the firm subject to South Carolina's 1951 law requiring registration of subversive organizations.
But CCM is unrepentant.
Referring to a Nevada brothel seized by the IRS in 1990, Portfolio Manager Bill Matson says, "The government should have kept Mustang Ranch running. Managing whores would have been good preparation for handling bankers and stockbrokers. Except the Wall Street guys are mostly thieves and low lives."