A few columns ago, I asked advisors to give me the most ridiculous stories about their SEC audit experience, and the answers made it clear that the inspectors and enforcement people at the SEC are not totally focused on the safety of investors, so much as finding fussy little foot-faults that they can write up to justify their existence. Many people wrote back to say that I should have included FINRA inspections in my little contest, and provided not just ridiculous stories, but also tales of mean-spirited enforcement and bullying, which seems to have had nothing to do with investor protection.
There's a point to this exercise. Ideally, the SEC and FINRA would have a system in place that does two things:
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