Study Harder

This article was originally published by Financial Planning magazine in October 2010.

The Dodd-Frank legislation calls for studies of fiduciary duty and financial planning oversight. What they find could change the industry.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

The buzz of activity in Washington over financial regulatory reform hasn't died since Congress passed the sweeping Dodd-Frank legislation and President Barack Obama signed it into law on July 21; it's merely moved from the halls of Congress to the regulatory agencies. For planners, the legislation kick-started two major initiatives that could transform the way financial advice is regulated and for the first time subject financial planning to explicit regulatory oversight.

The first is a study by the SEC about the obligations of brokers, dealers and investment advisors toward their clients. This study is likely to result in new rules imposing a fiduciary duty on all professionals who provide personalized investment advice, given SEC Chair Mary Schapiro's support for a uniform fiduciary standard. The second is a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the oversight of financial planning, which will result in recommendations to Congress of any legislation needed to close regulatory gaps and protect investors. Both studies are due in six months.

"It's very significant. Many major policy initiatives grow from government studies," says Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, managing director of public policy for the CFP Board of Standards. "This regulatory reform bill provides a golden opportunity to start important change in the industry."

Justice quizzed on death penalty

This article was originally published by Gannett News Service and the Jackson Clarion-Ledger on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

WASHINGTON — Mississippi Justice James Graves Jr. clarified his position on the death penalty Wednesday during a Senate hearing on his nomination for a federal judgeship.

Responding to a question from Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Graves explained that he joined a dissenting opinion in a capital murder case for reasons related only to claims by the defendant, Anthony Doss, that his attorneys had been ineffective and that he was mentally retarded.

"I take responsibility for joining that opinion, but I have not now nor have I ever subscribed to any point of view that the death penalty was unconstitutional," Graves told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The United States Supreme Court has determined that the death penalty does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. I would follow the law as handed down by the United States Supreme Court."

Graves, 56, is a nominee for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which hears appeals from case in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

He pointed to his nine years as a Mississippi justice, during which he voted to affirm convictions and the death penalty in at least a dozen capital punishment cases.

Graves is the only black justice on the court, which he joined in 2001. Before that, he was a Hinds County Circuit judge for 10 years.

He holds a bachelor's degree from Millsaps College and law and master's degrees from Syracuse University.