87 year old stock broker discovers why the SEC wont meet the GAO deadline

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Monday, March 29, 1999 Avoidance of high-tech gear didn't free broker of Y2K woes By Lynn Cowan The Wall Street Journal

Year 2000 doomsayers usually envision high-tech disasters. But an 87-year-old broker in West Virginia has discovered that Y2K can wreak havoc even on the technologically bereft. Last summer, Ralph Hinzman was sent a set of forms by the National Association of Securities Dealers so he could provide information about his firm's year-2000 readiness to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Hinzman, who makes about $20,000 a year selling mutual funds out of a home office in Weston, W. Va., doesn't even own a fax machine, so he wrote across the top page, "I don't have a computer. I don't know how to fill out these forms," and mailed it back to the NASD. A second set of forms arrived several months later, and Mr. Hinzman repeated the process. Some phone calls followed, and he explained that he wasn't expecting any year-2000 problems, because he had no PC. Nevertheless, Mr. Hinzman's business, Allegheny Financial Programs, was among the dozens of brokers charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with missing the deadline for filing the forms. He paid $5,000 to settle the case and is still angry about it. "The form wasn't properly designed," Mr. Hinzman says. "They should have had on the first page, 'Does your company use computers?' And if you answered no, you wouldn't have to look at 17 pages of utter nonsense." But Dan Gregus, an assistant regional director in the SEC's Chicago enforcement office, says even brokers without computers can face year-2000 issues if other companies they do business with aren't prepared, and the forms are a way of catching such problems well ahead of the new year. The NASD also notes that brokers were instructed to correspond with the SEC about any problems they had in a separate letter, not by writing on the forms. "There are reasons behind the SEC rules that are not readily apparent to you, sitting in your office without a computer," Mr. Gregus adds. In any case, Mr. Hinzman's days as a man without technology are numbered. As of Jan. 1, the NASD required brokers to have e-mail addresses to receive notices and updates electronically. To comply, Mr. Hinzman has bought a computer, though it is still sitting at his daughter's house because he doesn't see much use for it. "They got a lot of educated people there," Mr. Hinzman says of the NASD and SEC. "But no one with common sense."

-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), March 30, 1999


This is an example of why it may not be a bad thing if enough computers (especially government computers) crash.

-- A (A@AisA.com), March 31, 1999.

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