With the market about to end its third straight year in negative territory and Wall Street riven by scandals large and small, the life of the retail stockbroker has not been easy in 2002. Until this stuff gets mopped up and the economy proves to be on a solid recovery path, we don't see a whole lot of potential for clients to beat down your doors. But we may be at an inflection point. Harvey Pitt resigned, and the incoming chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), has stated that the new SEC chief will have to be “independent.”

Pitt is a talented guy, by all accounts, but the SEC has to have Caesar's wife-like purity these days and Pitt had to fall on his sword. Meantime, the SROs are working hard with the governmental regulatory bodies to settle the research-conflict problems and move on. This is not to say that you can expect immediate results. As was apparent at the recent SIA conference, the NYSE and NASD, to name just two, have different views on how to settle with the state attorneys general and the SEC.

The practical effect on you, our reader? Most likely, we're in for more sturm und drang in the new year. Regardless of the speed of the scandal cleanup and the economic recovery, the brokerage business continues to morph and, after the toughest year since the 1970s, the brokers and advisors who are still standing have proven that they have the moxie to make it. As our cover story, “Light A Candle or Curse the Darkness,” points out, now is the time for brokers to really improve their games. Right behind that story, on page 31, we know you'll enjoy seeing our 12th Annual Broker Report Card, Registered Rep.'s exclusive annual ratings of brokerage firms by you, their employees. Guess what? Most of the scores are lower.

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We are delighted to share a bit of good news. Registered Rep. has won the prestigious Ozzie award. Rep. won the 2002 Ozzie for “Best Redesign” in a business-to-business magazine with a circulation over 35,000. A jury of our design and editorial peers cited our new clean design for its sophistication and eye-pleasing looks. The citation noted that the magazine even made stockbrokers seem like fun.

The Ozzie, pictured here, was awarded to the magazine, but Group Design Director John Herr deserves the credit. John redesigned the magazine and its snappy new logo on a crash schedule a year ago and has continued to produce amazing, lively and interesting-looking pages that make our stories the best they can be. Thanks, John.

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As always, let us know what you think. Contact us with questions, problems, concerns, story ideas, whatever at registeredrep@primediabusiness.com Or call me directly at (212) 462-3591.

We thank you for your support. Drop us a line with your comments at: 249 W. 17th St., New York, N.Y. 10011-5300. Or email us, dgeracioti@primediabusiness.com. Publisher Rich Santos can be found at rsantos@primediabusiness.com.