The Securities and Exchange Commission will commission a study to compare how the different regulatory systems that apply to broker-dealers and investment advisers affect investors.

The SEC issued a request for proposals to conduct the first stage of the study this week and responses are due by Aug. 24.

"Our goal is to improve investor protection by updating our regulation to deal with the realities of today's marketplace," said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, in a statement.

Conducting the study was first suggested in connection with a rule that the SEC adopted in April 2005, allowing broker-dealers to offer fee-based brokerage accounts without being required to comply with the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which regulates investment advisors. Broker-dealers are regulated under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934.

The rule was the subject of a large number of comments, many of which raised concerns about the rulemaking process on a larger scale.

The study will involve an outside contractor collecting, categorizing and analyzing empirical data from a wide variety of sources. The information studied would include marketing, sales and delivery data about the financial products, accounts, programs and services offered by broker-dealers and investment advisers to individual investors.

The full text of the RFP can be accessed at www.sec.gov/news/extra/2006/sechq1-06-r-0177.pdf .

Previously on WebCPA:

Most Tax Professionals Enter PFP Arena Via Broker/Dealer (Dec. 13, 2004)

SEC Moves to Delay Review of Broker/Dealer Rule; FPA Agrees (Aug. 27, 2004)

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