WASHINGTON, D.C.— Stephen Hall, Legal Director and Securities Specialist, issued the following statement in connection with Better Markets’ filing of an amicus curiae brief in Robinhood Financial LLC v. Galvin, case number SJC-13381 in the Supreme Judicial Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
“Too many retail customers are ripped off by their brokers who put their financial interests above the best interests of their clients. That’s wrong. When advising or investing their clients’ money, brokers should be required always to put their clients’ best interests first. That’s why we are supporting the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth who issued a regulation to force stockbrokers to be prudent and loyal when recommending investments to retail investors—a standard that aligns with what true investment advisers have been expected to do for decades.
“This case is yet another legal action related to Robinhood’s long-running efforts to avoid accountability to its retail clients. Rather than embracing the high standard in the Massachusetts rule and focusing on ways to help its clients build long-term wealth, Robinhood sued the Secretary to block the rule under a variety of legal theories. The case has now reached the Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts’ highest court.
“Better Markets filed an amicus curiae brief fully supporting the State of Massachusetts in this litigation. As an organization that has fought for retail investors since the early days of Dodd-Frank, we explained to the Supreme Judicial Court that this case has real-world consequences. Without investor protections like the Massachusetts rule, working families will continue to fall victim to adviser conflicts of interest. Those conflicts incentivize broker-dealers to recommend investments based on the profits they can extract, not on what’s best for their clients. That conflicted advice just moves money into brokers’ pockets from the savings of Main Street investors, and that must not be allowed.
“Our amicus brief also challenged one of Robinhood’s core legal theories—that the SEC’s 2019 Regulation Best Interest supersedes or ‘preempts’ the Massachusetts regulation. We explained to the Court that this argument cannot stand under current Supreme Court jurisprudence; the state’s rule here does not conflict with the SEC’s rule but simply adds an additional layer of protection for investors. And that’s a good thing, since the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest is a weak remedy for adviser conflicts of interest, one that has not lived up to the letter or spirit of Dodd-Frank or the federal securities laws. That makes regulation like the Massachusetts fiduciary duty rule, which can fill gaps in the federal rule, all the more important.
“Better Markets looks forward to the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling and a victory for the retail investors and Main Street families trying to build wealth in our equity markets.”
Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies—including many in finance—to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.org.