August 25, 2010
I have been a part of the financial services industry now for over 40 years. During that time I have served client needs and managed my own financial affairs. I hold Series 6 and 63 licenses as well as licenses to sell and service life and health insurance and variable life products in several states. To maintain my various licenses I am required to show proof that I have met the continuing education requirements of the various states, my company, my broker/dealer, as well as submit to examination of my knowledge of the investment arena by FINRA on a triennial basis. I amd my client records are subjected to no less than annual inspection on a random basis by my broker/dealer and may be examined on a "no notice' basis by industry regulators at any time. I consider this all to be a minimum standard of compliance and often seek education and training in addition to these minimums so that I can better serve my clients.
As I read more about the issue under consideration by the SEC, I am concerned for my clients and for myself as I view the possibility that I might be held to a fiduciary standard in my current practice. From what I have read, such a requirement might have little if any current impact on my clients other than to possibly force me to change my practice model to charge fees for client service, which I currently do not do. That would seem to be the only way I could recoup the additional costs to meet the increased time and demands on me to meet new fiduciary standards. Frankly, I doubt that the middle-of-the-road clientele I serve will pay fees and thus will lose the advice and service I am currently able to provide them. And what I continually encounter as I meet new prospective clients are individuals who desperately need the personal review and recommendations I offer and can afford to under our current regulatory system and the way I am compensated by relatively modest commissions, but who will not be able to afford the typical fee-only advice we see as part of a financial advisor model.
I personally can only urge those who must decide on this issue not to try to re-regulate to fix that which may not be broken. We have enough laws and regulations on the books...what we need is a better mechanism for enforcement.