Today's Congressional panel on advisor oversight may not change any minds in Washington on who should regulate RIA firms, but it gives us all a chance to see what individual representatives are thinking.
The hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. ET, probably won't be covered live on C-SPAN, although with their programming you never know.
Most of the arguments have already been submitted in written form. The only person arguing against moving RIAs out of direct SEC supervision and into a self-regulatory organization (SRO) is David Tittsworth, head of the pro-advisor Investment Adviser Association (IAA).
It's a bittersweet thing that alphabetical order means Tittsworth will probably speak last. On the one hand, as the only person on his side, he can leave a more lingering impression -- getting "the last word."
But on the other hand, as a veteran of these things, I know that by this point the representatives in committee will be tired, bored, and distracted by prep for their next meeting.
By contrast, Bill Dwyer of the Financial Services Institute, the organization for independent broker-dealers, goes on first and gets to set the scene while the representatives are fresh and paying attention.
His prepared comments are strongly in favor of moving RIAs not just to some vague SRO but directly to FINRA.
In both cases, the Q&A will provide insight into what individual representatives are thinking. If you have an argument that Tittsworth doesn't have time to make -- or a counter to what any of the pro-SRO panelists says -- you can figure out better who to write based on the questions they ask.
And while the committee might rubber-stamp the new rules on party lines, there is still time at this early stage to suggest amendments that defray the aspects of SRO membership that advisors would really hate.
If, for example, you want to make sure that RIAs get full representation in the SRO, make sure that committee members know that's important to get into the bill.