August 17, 2010
RE: File No: 4-606
Dear Ms. Murphy:
I am a financial planner and a Registered Investment Advisor with 75 clients, handling just under $100,000,000 assets under management. In my practice, I have been servicing clients under a fiduciary standard of care for over 16 years. I strongly urge you to extend the Advisers Act's fiduciary standard of care to all financial professionals who provide personalized investment advice to retail clients.
It is unfair to consumers that the quality of advice they receive from a financial professional is dependent on the professional's registration or title. It is no wonder that consumers are confused, and do not know whether their financial professional is looking out for themselves or the client's best interests.
I can tell you from my personal experience that adhering to the fiduciary standard of care and putting my clients interests ahead of my own benefits my clients and my business. In 1995, I resigned my securities and insurance licenses in order to be legally recognized as a fiduciary to my clients, rather than to my employer (my broker dealer)at that time. Total transparency. No more ambiguity. My clients and prospective clients knew what they were getting, and that my focus was doing the best job for them.
I felt then as I do now that consumers deserve a clear and level playing field on which to judge the merits of a financial advisor to whom they may wish to entrust their financial lives. Conflicts of interest and hidden, non- disclosed charges are free to continue without a mandate for each of us to place our clients interests before our own.
My clients all recognize and understand that the advice I give them is in their best interests. Because my loyalty is to them first, I will advise them with utmost good faith, and I will disclose to them and manage any conflicts of interests that may harm them. I get paid for the advice I give them and the investments I select manage for them. I am required to choose from the best investments available keeping their interests first.
Adhering to the fiduciary standard of care does not limit my ability to provide my clients with appropriate services and products. As a fiduciary, I can choose to operate in a business model that is best for my client. The key is fully disclosing costs and compensation, and avoiding and fairly managing any conflicts of interest. Providing financial advice with fiduciary accountability does not reduce services to middle Americans. It insures that the services consumers receive will be in their best interests -- not in the best interests of the financial intermediary or his or her company.
I urge you to recommend to Congress that it is necessary and appropriate, in the public interest, and for the protection of consumers to extend the fiduciary standard to broker-dealers, who provide personalized investment advice, and to initiate a rulemaking to achieve this long overdue consumer reform.
Eric D. Bruck, CFP®, Principal
Silver Oak Wealth Advisors, LLC
12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1300
Los Angeles, CA 90025