August 24, 2010
If the current legal fiduciary standard was the ideal suit of armor for consumers then why have we had so many problems with account churning, pyramid schemes, sloppy analysis? The current legal fiduciary standard followed by investment advisors has allowed far more harm that it has prevented. It has not stopped one crook or even slowed them down either on the corporate level or a personal one. The proposed law offers a false sense of security to the general public. It like allowing a dangerous buzz saw that can maim or kill to exist on every street corner and if you get injured and lose a few limbs then offering to the injured the finest surgeons to fix it all a few years down the road. If the average small investor, the majority of the broker-dealers customer base, loses money, those customers are losing time and money that may not be able to be replaced. This is why we are so conscience of the bigger picture, the future picture. In other words they do not have the time or resources to wait for a resolution. Ask the retirees who bought ERON stock. Or GM. Or Worldcom. or any of the early dot com companies. The suitability standard used by the broker-dealers gives pause to the process so that a persons risk tolerance, investment objective, age, source of funds and even health can be examined against the proposed investment. This happens at the beginning of the process when it is far easier and under less pressure for the consumer to make a suitable investment decision. Does the suitability standard keep people from being foolish with their own money- no. Can we keep broker-dealers from offering unsafe investments suggestions- yes and we have. The lines between banking and investing were blurred resulting in a disaster not once but twice this century alone. We never should never forget it is not our money. Prudent investment strategies will accomplish more for the investing public than another layer of regulations ever will. Lets not weaken the safe guards a broker-dealer can offer their clients. Thank you.