NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- To get an idea of the alternate universe in which some firms on Wall Street orbit, consider the letter that Andrew Heath, chief compliance officer of Shrewsbury, N.J.-based Buckman Buckman & Reid Inc., sent to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last June.
Heath was writing to voice "strong opposition" to a proposal that brokerage firms include a hyperlink on their home pages that would take customers to Finra's BrokerCheck, where the public can find complaint and regulatory information about stockbrokers and their employers.
"There are many unscrupulous investors out there in the marketplace who will stop at nothing to extort money from brokers or their employer firms," Heath wrote.
You read that right. Unscrupulous investors. Taking advantage of innocent brokers. And to think that some of us were worried that it was dear old Aunt Matilda who was getting snookered by Wall Street's army of salespeople.
Finra wound up recommending to the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 27 that firms provide a BrokerCheck link on their home pages anyway, and -- Heath's indignation notwithstanding -- it was a coup for Wall Street that Finra didn't demand more. The securities industry fights hard to keep as much distance as it can between its customers and the dirt on its problematic brokers, and it came out a winner in this most recent row.
Finra initially had proposed that firms provide direct links to the records of individual brokers when investors came across their names on brokerage firm Web sites, which would have made it easy for the public to discover any wrongdoing with a single click.