August 30, 2010
I disagree that the fiduciary standard has protected consumers better. Basically, the fiduciary standard looks back and enforces breaches retroactively through SEC enforcement and private lawsuits. The suitability standard looks forward and tries to prevent harm to consumers through ongoing and frequent FINRA and broker-dealer audits and compliancce processes. This industry is currently regulated enough
A recent study conducted by Cerulli Associates indicated that the average age of financial advisors is just under 49 years old and about 14% of its workforce are older than 60 years old. More importantly, less than 25% of all advisors are ages 40 or younger and just 5.6% of advisors are ages 30 or younger. If the SEC imposes new fuduciary standads on broker-dealers and their registered representatives, there will be many more expereinced representatives retiring and fewer new advisors joining the industry because of the "excessive regulations".
This industry needs new blood to replenish itself at at time when aging baby boomer clients will be putting greater demands on their advisors (many of whom themselves will be shifting into retirement mode). But an influx of reinforcements doesn't seem to be happening. If the SEC sets these new fiduciary standards, there will be even fewer young people joining this industry.
Under the curent regulations, any accusation against a financial advisor (be it true of false) is a good as fact and is recorded in stone for all to see even before there is a hearing. This amid an enviorment where petrified firms would rather pay the fine than fight, regardless of the rep's side of the story. Industry participants live in constant fear of becoming regulatory "trophies" if every singl "i" isn't dotted in exactly the right way come audit time.
I love the work I do but more requlations will just make me considering retiring now instead of later. When advisors do the right thing by their clients and help them achieve their goals, there is a tremendous feeling of positivity and gratification. Unfortunaty, this side of the business is rarely seen in the media.
So you see, the additional regulations you are proposing would make an already difficult job more difficult. We are already regulated enough and more regulations will only hurt the future growth of this industry.