August 30, 2010
After 30 years of dealing with individual investors in south-central Ohio, I believe there is no reason to change the current standards. In fact, changing to a fiduciary standard may very well freeze out the smaller individual investor.
Forcing all advisers to a fiduciary standard would be the equivalent of forcing all attorneys to verify that every one of their customers have a valid will, a clear title to their real estate, and durable powers of attorney before being able to serve them. This would force people to pay additional fees, and prevent them (or greatly increase their costs) from seeking legal advice for (as an example) child custody or a traffic violation.
I work for a firm that has an outstanding record of keeping the client's interest first. I do not speak for our firm, but I believe we consistently rank as the firm that holds the client in highest regard.
Instead of coming up with a new "standard" that very well might force many smaller individual investors to forego investing with qualified, licensed, compliant professionals, why not clamp down on firms that have lousy records of compliance? The "law of unintended consequences" may turn out to harm the very persons you seek to protect with this new proposal.