July 30, 2010
As you know all B/Ds and RAPs have a suitability standard that is as rigorously enforced as any. Indeed I would suggest it is more rigorous than the advisor standard as the advisor standard is a look back provision whilst the B/D standard is a look forward standard.
When it comes to compliance, the costs, both in terms of finances and time, are greater than ever. I have been in this business since 1985 and can say unequivically that adding more regulation will not help clients but eventually cost them more.
Virtually every hour of every day there is some area of compliance that I have to address as CEO of Treasure Coast Financial. Indeed I now have one person whose primary responsibility is no longer sales administration but compliance.
However the biggest loser in this is the small client who cannot be served on a "fee only" basis. The smallest account we can practically manage on a fee basis is $100,000 and we are seriously considering moving that to $250,000 in January because the costs to manage smaller accounts has escalated to a point of making them financially inpractical. We are not alone on that score. Without commission based products small clients who are already vastly underserved will become completely unserved creating an even greater burden on the government.
While I believe we should always act in the "best interest" of our clients, the proposal does not define what the rules are for compliance with a legal "best interest" standard - thus subjecting B/Ds and RAPs to the potential of never ending lawsuits and even more bureauacracy. But waht is the definition of "best"? Is "best" the cheapest recommended product? When it comes to insurance and annuities is "best" simply the product with the lowest premium or "best" underwriting standards, or the "best" rating? The fiduciary standard essentially adds a vague legal liability standard that can only be enforced after the fact by regulators and attorneys with perfect vision in hindsight.
Thank you for accepting my comments.
Donald F. White, CLU, ChFC, AEP
CEO, Treasure Coast Financial
1803 S Kanner Hwy
Stuart, FL 34994
(772) 283-6342 Ext 101
Securities offered through INVEST Financial, member FINRA SIPC. Invest Financial and Treasure Coast Financial are independent firms and are not affiliated.