The world's largest online broker yesterday said it supported proposals by Hong Kong's securities regulator to tighten rules covering conflicts of interest for analysts. Charles Schwab Asia regional general manager Christina Hui Siu-wing said for the first nine months, just 13 per cent of United States analysts had 'sell' ratings on 3,000 stocks, compared with 30 per cent for Charles Schwab. Ms Hui said the difference occurred because many US analysts were employed by companies with investment banking arms, while Charles Schwab had no relationship with investment banks. 'This showed that there is a conflict of interest for analysts doing research reports on companies which are clients of their investment banking arm,' she said. To solve the problem, she said Hong Kong and US regulators should require analysts to disclose whether their investment banking arms were doing any underwriting business for the firms they were researching. Alternatively, analysts should work independent of investment banks. The Securities and Futures Commission will issue a consultation paper early next year on how analysts should manage conflicts of interest. It follows a campaign in the US which uncovered market abuses and led to fines for 10 of the world's leading investment firms.