July 28, 2010
As an attorney, former Chair of the IMCA Ethics Committee, recipient of the CFP Annual Articles Award and the IMCA Keller Award for Lasting Contribution to the Industry (both in the field of Ethics), a contributing member of the FPA Fiduciary Task Force and, author of Ethics Chapters for the CIMA Program and presenter of Ethics for the CIMA program at the Wharton School and elsewhere, I would be happy to help in any way I can.
My comment is simple: All Advisors should be held to the highest fiduciary standards because THAT is what the public invester expects and is led to believe. In the same fashion that a patient expects the same standard of care from a nurse-practicioneer as a doctor, the investment public is ill-equipped to recognize and/or differentiate between conflict-of-interest situations and full and fair disclosure. In many situations, disclosure is neither understood nor effective in communicating potential conflicts. In other situations, the client will simply accept the disclosure and not act upon it - relying instead on the 'momentum' from the existing relationship, whereas, if instead, a third party were to view the transaction (without said 'momentum') they would likely choose otherwise. In short, clients cannot adequately differentiate and are too involved in the advisor relationship to be objectively protective of their own interests - protection needs to arise elsewhere.
These are my opinions and not necessarily those of the firm I work for.
Let me know if I can help in any way.