SEC's stock market reform club locks out retail brokers

Sun Apr 26, 2015 3:37pm EDT
 
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By John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is convening a group of financial industry veterans for the first time next month to consider stock market reforms, but one group will be conspicuously absent: retail brokerages.

The SEC's 17-member Market Structure Advisory Committee includes representatives of fund companies, an exchange, off-exchange trading venues, dealers, and academia, among others. The group, which meets four times a year, will review old rules, and advise the SEC on a range of new regulations designed to make sure the market is as stable and fair as possible.

Still, given that the SEC has said its main priority is to protect retail investors, the omission of retail brokers raises questions, because without their point of view the panel may recommend changes that favor institutional investors, analysts said. Retail investors place around 16 percent of all U.S. stock orders.

"There's a missing gap of protecting retail order flow," said Larry Tabb, chief executive of capital markets advisory firm TABB Group.

That gap was also noticed by committee member Joseph Ratterman, chairman of No. 2 U.S. exchange operator BATS Global Markets. He said he mentioned his concern to SEC Chair Mary Jo White shortly after the committee was announced and that she was supportive of him, along with committee member Jamil Nazarali, from market making firm Citadel Securities, formally representing retail interests. 

Citadel and BATS do not directly interact with retail investors, and their interests sometimes diverge from retail brokers'. 

The SEC declined to comment, and hasn't said how it chose the committee members.

The major retail brokerages, including Charles Schwab Corp SCHW.N, TD Ameritrade AMTD.N, E*Trade (ETFC.O: Quote), Fidelity and Scottrade, also declined to comment on the record.   Continued...

 
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst