August 23, 2010
TO: Whom it may concern
RE: Fiduciary Standard on Registered Representatives
I would like to respectfully submit my opinion that having a fiduciary responsibility on registered representatives is a BAD IDEA, PLEASE DO NOT PASS THIS IN TO LAW.
As an Advisor, I do owe a fiduciary responsibility to some of my clients (those involved in "planning" with me). I point out the very clear differences between a registered rep and a fiduciary. To be in a fiduciary relationship with a client is a two-way street. The only clients I work with on this basis must agree to be highly engaged. The reason being is I have many clients who (for whatever reason - usually their own lack of caring, responsibility, etc) won't even call back when I call them How am I to have a fiduciary responsibility with someone like this? There are many clients like this within my system unfortunately.
Also, we as a nation already have a "Blame" culture it's never anyone's individual fault for anything anymore. It's always someone elses. I'd like to see some of the responsibility put on the consumer in terms of doing due diligence on how they work with a Registered Rep or Advisor. Most advisors and reps like myself are good people. I feel like the majority of bad things that happen in investments are by few VERY BAD people such as Bernie Madoff (an extreme example sure, but true).
I personally am buried in expenses and time-costly procedures JUST to stay in compliance. I have a clean record to show for it. I do my best for my clients all the time, and put their interests first. Adding a fiduciary responsibility to all of my clients would create a compliance nightmare that would seemingly not even allow me to stay in business. I think if this law does pass, many good advisors/reps will leave the industry or not enter to begin with. This would be a true shame as many honest advisors would be out of the business leaving consumers less people to work with...some of them maybe not so great but because they make lots of money themselves they can afford to stay in the business.
I believe the laws as they are today protect consumers very fairly. Again, having consumers have to own some responsibility would be a great thing. If the SEC would instead focus on consumer education (potentially even an ad campaign on this) I think it would be a much better use of time and money.
Andrew J. Bird