August 16, 2010
This Dodd-Frank bill is written with good intent but will destroy the insurance planning careers of many talented and honest advisors.
The bill will only open the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits much like what happened in the UK years ago. Retirement for many in England is that of being dependent on the government mainly because almost all financial advisors came to the point where they were regulated to the point that it didn't make sense to continue their careers.
This bill will only pass along cost to the consumer and is unnecessary as we already have a suitability standard that advisors have to live up to. The definitions of "fiduciary standard" are impossible to view or define objectively.
The suitability standard governing broker-dealers and registered representatives is a robust and heavily enforced standard. Compare and contrast it to how you see the fiduciary standard governing investment advisers is applied and enforced.
#61607 Compliance costs-both in terms of finances and time-are high, and those costs are eventually felt by clients. Adding another layer of regulation means another layer of compliance, and even more cost to clients.
o The current registrations I carry are Series 6,63,65,and 7. The cost and continuing education requirements yearly are enough to choke a horse
o I am subject to annual audits and an incredibly high level of accountability.
o Maintaining a compliant practice takes up at least 20% of our time with no way to cover the cost. We have someone in our office whose sole job is keeping up with compliance.
#61607 The liabilities of an ongoing and RETROACTIVE fiduciary duty would mean my costs and my ability to serve my clients will greatly be diminished to the point that I stop helping clients with proper planning and do something else. We do great things for people and you need to take that into consideration.
o Moving to a fee-only model will NOT result in better, unbiased advice? Most people who need us are unwilling to pay a fee.
o Forcing me to a fee only model to protect myself from liability is not the answer.
o Most clients cannot afford to pay up front fees or are not willing to?
o The added liabilities will drive up my errors and omissions coverage over what they already are now which is more than my car insurance on a monthly basis.
This bill has good intent as said earlier however it is totally unrealistic. I beg you to alter the bill and eliminate the "look back" liability and continue the current suitability standard we live with now.
I believe we are already acting in the "best interest" of our clients, the Act does not define what the rules are for compliance with a legal "best interest" standard - thus subjecting registered representatives to the potential of never ending lawsuits. For example, is "best" the cheapest recommended product? The "best" premium relative to the benefit of the product?
The product with the "best" historic underwriting and service standards? Is it the one from the carrier with the "best" rating?
The fiduciary standard in essence adds a vague legal liability standard that looks back (sometimes after many years) and is enforced after the fact by the SEC or trial lawyers who have perfect vision in hindsight.
This cannot be allowed to pass. In the best interest of our Nation I urge you to look deeper into history and compare this new regulatory bill to what happened in the UK.
PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW HISTORY TO REPEAT ITSELF
Michael Thompson ,CLU