August 30, 2010
As we approach retirement age, my husband and I have collected an array of 401Ks, 403Bs, IRAs, Keogh Plans, 527 Plans and other investments over a lifetime of work with various employers. As we are not financial experts, over the years we have sought assistance to somehow manage and make sense of these. The quality of the advice has been uneven at best and, in retrospect, some of the decisions made through the advice of 'experts' have been pretty bad.
What consumers need from government is clear and easily understood information about the roles played by brokers, dealers, and investment advisors. Since employer pensions are now few and far between, most consumers eventually deal with these people. We need to know:
--specific descriptions for each title
--what credentials to look for
--what the credentials mean
--exactly how individuals with each title make their money
--what types of assistance to chose for what types of situations
--what sort of arrangements are usual with each type of assistance
--what commission rates are usual and reasonable (and why)
--a clearinghouse for vetting reputable, high quality financial assistance
--what questions to ask, potential red flags for each investment decision
This information should be clearly written (but not 'dumbed down'), available as a online resource (in regular web pages as well as PDF format), with optimized SEO so that it easily located through a simple search.