Guest Column

Montana Must Stand Against NASAA’s Proposed Rule Change

Potential job losses, increased fees, and reduced access to financial services could ripple across our state’s economy

By The Montana Business Leadership Council Board of Directors

American businesses have faced more than their fair share of economic challenges in recent years, from high inflation and rising interest rates to stunted growth. While they look toward a brighter future, a new challenge is emerging that could ripple through our economy – particularly affecting a key portion of these small businesses as well as everyday investors. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) has proposed a model rule change concerning broker-dealers and agents that could bring more harm than good to our state’s economic fabric. 

At its core, this proposal aims to modify rules around financial services professionals. However, the potential clash with the existing federal regulations, specifically the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), is a major red flag. Reg BI is a national standard ensuring that broker-dealers act in the best interest of their clients. The proposed changes by NASAA risk creating a patchwork of different regulatory environments, leaving our state’s small financial firms in a bind trying to reconcile conflicting state and federal regulations.  

Imagine a Montana where local investment advisors struggle under the weight of these conflicting rules. It’s not just a compliance headache; it’s about the very survival of these small businesses that play a critical role in our financial ecosystem. This disharmony threatens the stability and predictability these firms rely on. 

Another concern is the impact on Montanans outside of the top-earning income bracket. Access to a wide range of financial services and products is crucial, especially for low- and middle-income individuals. These proposed changes could narrow this access, deepening the economic divide and undermining the financial well-being of many in our state. For those working hard to plan for their futures or make informed investment decisions, this is a significant setback. 

Consider also the complexity of a fragmented, state-by-state regulatory landscape. Such inconsistency would lead to confusion, not just for financial professionals but also among investors. For Montana businesses that operate across state lines, understanding and navigating these varied rules would be a daunting, if not impossible, task. The lack of uniformity and transparency resulting from these changes undermines the effectiveness of financial regulation. 

Let’s not forget the broader implications for Montana’s financial sector. Potential job losses, increased fees, and reduced access to financial services could ripple across our state’s economy. We’re talking about a potential hindrance to the growth and sustainability of a sector that’s a cornerstone of Montana’s economic stability. And with the potential negative impact on the financial wellbeing of consumers, no business would be spared from the effects of the proposed rule change.  

It is in the best interest of Montanans for NASAA to reconsider these proposed amendments in order to achieve a stable, coherent, and fair environment for our state’s businesses. Such an approach is critical to support Montana’s growth and prosperity. 

Montana’s charm lies not just in its landscapes but in its communities and the small businesses that are their lifeblood. We stand for fairness, stability, and prosperity, values that are at risk if these proposed rule changes come into effect. Let’s ensure our regulatory environment continues to support the prosperity of Montana’s business community and its investors. Let’s stand together to keep the financial heartbeat of our state strong and steady. 

The Montana Business Leadership Council exists to educate Montanans on the importance of a healthy climate for business and industry to create more jobs, higher wages, and new opportunities. The voard members are Don Sterhan, Mike Hope, Fred Thomas and Spenser Merwin.