August 30, 2010
Dear Ms. Murphy:
I am a Certified Financial Planner (TM) and Registered Investment Adviser with 35 clients handling $14 million assets under management. In my business, I have always served my clients under a fiduciary standard of care. I strongly urge you to extend the Advisers Act fiduciary standard of care to all financial professionals who provide personalized investment advice to retail clients.
It is unfair to consumers that the quality of advice they receive from a financial professional is dependent on the professionals registration or title. Its no wonder consumers are confused, and do not know whether their financial professional is looking out for their best interests. I can tell you from my personal experience that adhering to the fiduciary standard of care and putting my clients interests ahead of my own benefits my clients and my business.
My clients recognize and understand that the advice I give them is in their best interest. I provide advice, consultation, and education. With the fee-only approach, no commissions are paid on products such as insurance or investments that may be recommended. Unlike stockbrokers, registered representatives or insurance agents, I put in writing that:
- I have a fiduciary duty to my clients
- I do not receive any compensation in any form from any company providing products or services to my clients
- There are no financial incentives for me to recommend any product or service
Adhering to the fiduciary standard of care does not limit my ability to provide my clients with appropriate services and products. As a fiduciary, I operate in a business model that is best for my client. The key is avoiding or fairly managing and disclosing conflicts of interest. Providing financial advice with fiduciary accountability does not reduce services to middle Americans. It insures that the services consumers receive will be in their best interests -- not in the best interests of the financial intermediary or his or her company.
I urge you to recommend to Congress that it is necessary and appropriate in the public interest and for the protection of consumers to extend the fiduciary standard to broker-dealers, who provide personalized investment advice, and to initiate a rulemaking to achieve this long overdue consumer reform.
David J. O'Brien, MBA, AIF®, CFP®
NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor
14241 Midlothian Turnpike, #117
Midlothian, VA 23112