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News February 21, 2005 Issue

An SEC Newsletter? An SEC Conference?

Itís not pie in the sky.

Earlier this month, the U.K. Financial Services Authority, the British equivalent of the SEC, published the first issue of its "Retail Intermediaries Newsletter." While you might not care about U.K. pension tax reform and the other substantive issues covered by the newsletter, the document certainly provides a sneak peek as to what an equivalent SEC product might look like.

The FSA explained that it designed the newsletter to provide "updates, advice, and guidance" on issues that directly impact advisers and other retail intermediaries. The FSA noted that the newsletter "is quite deliberately much less formal than most FSA documents" and is intended to supplement the regulatorís existing communications, such as the FSA website, roadshows, and "surgeries" (sounds like a rather unpleasant regulatory approach).

In the newsletter, the FSA introduced its retail intermediaries team, explained that their role is to "develop a frank and open dialogue with you ó sharing knowledge, idea and concerns, so that together we can make U.K. markets more efficient and ensure customers get a fair deal."

Sound familiar?

The regulator encouraged readers to contact them if there are matters they want to discuss. The newsletter noted that the teamís role was to work with the industry "to ensure that our staff are up to date with the latest developments." In bold letters across the bottom of the pages: "This is not FSA guidance."

The FSA also announced that it is holding a one-day conference for advisers, scheduled for February 24. The cost is approximately US $188. Speakers include FSA regulators and industry participants.

The FSA also noted that it has created a "work shadowing" program, in which regulatory staff "spend time at an advisory firm gaining practical insight into the day-to-day life of an adviser."