Washington telecommunications analyst Scott Cleland and the other eight members of the Precursor Group policy-research team ended their association with investment bank Legg Mason and went independent June 28.
Cleland said he wanted to head off potential conflicts of interest, real or perceived, between Precursor research and the other traditional Wall Street businesses, such as investment banking, proprietary trading and stock picking.
"Clients would rather not have to worry about researchers' having ulterior financial motives for their reports," he said.
Cleland hastened to add that Legg Mason never pressured Precursor researchers to tout company investments. But, he said, his team was unhappy with allegations of conflicts raised by the National Cable Television Association, which last summer charged that Cleland's support for open-access rules on cable Internet operations was motivated in part by Legg Mason investments in America Online. At the time, AOL was a leading proponent of open-access rules.