Monday, February 22, 2010

Louisiana Broker-Dealers Seek More Business from State Retirement Systems

At a joint meeting of the House Retirement and Commerce committees Monday, a New Orleans legislator renewed his request to make permanent a pilot program requiring the state's four largest retirement systems give at least ten percent of their investment business to Louisiana broker-dealers. Commerce Committee Chairman Representative Jeff Arnold says the systems (Louisiana State Employees' Retirement System (LASERS), Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL), Louisiana School Employees retirement System (LSERS), and the State Police Retirement System) should be required by law to use broker-dealers within the state as a way to feed the state's economy.

Bobby Beale, Chief Investment Officer for LASERS told the panel "We have nothing against Louisiana broker-dealers who in many cases provide our managers with information which is valuable." Beale added that the trouble with the mandate supported by Representative Arnold is that it "ties the hands of the system", making it difficult to make trades in a cost-effective way. "Louisiana is not a trading center, never will be," said Beale.

Steven Rueb of Dorsey Investments in New Orleans disagreed, pointing out "we put our pants on in New Orleans and Shreveport the same way as they do in New York. We can meet or beat the best price anyone out of state has to offer." Broker-dealer Leonard Alsfeld added "this does create jobs.....without this requirement, our calls (to the retirement systems) will never be returned."

Slidell Representative Kevin Pearson was not convinced saying "When you put the type of a mandate on a system, you go in and micro-manage. We maybe should be looking for some sort of economic develeopment funds to grow Louisiana dealers," Ruston Representative Hollis Downs added "I doubt there's anyone here that doesn't like having business done with Louisiana companies. I'd love to see you get business by competing for it. I have difficulty legislating it."

Representative Arnold says he intends to bring the matter up for a vote during the legislature's spring annual session. Right now, the broker-dealer mandate is set to expire at the end of the state's fiscal year in June.

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