August 30, 2010
I feel compelled to weigh in with my take on the fiduciary standard which the SEC may choose to impose on all registered representatives as part of the Dodd-Frank reform act. Here are my observations:
1. The current standard of suitability means that all broker-dealers are required to supervise their representatives and review investment submissions to verify that they are suitable for the age, objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance of the account holder. These standards mean that the broker-dealer will not approve any investment deemed to be unsuitable, thereby preventing a great number of unsuitable investments from ever being sold to people for whom they are inappropriate.
2. By contrast, the fiduciary standard, while sounding good on paper, is vaguely defined and provides no such just-in-time supervision at the time it is needed most--when the account is being established. It only imposes a standard that can only be enforced in hindsight once the damage is done, but does nothing to prevent new victims.
3. The additional costs of maintaining such a standard will increase my cost of doing business, reduce my profitability both in time lost seeing and helping clients and in actual costs incurred, and finally may cause me to reduce the number of people I employ, adding to the unemployemnt troubles facing our country.
4. Understand, please, that registered representatives and their staff are already held to a high standard of compliance by the suitability standard, and perhaps more money should be allocated toward ensuring that the current standard is adeqately enforced.
5. My own compensation as a registered representative of MML Investors Services, Inc. is barely sufficient in this economy to support my own family as well as that of my staff. Any further erosion of profit due to new, unneccessary "feelgood" rules with no real concrete and immediate benefit to the consumer will force me to reevaluate my status as a small business owner. This decision will impact not only my own clients, but will have far-reaching economic impact accross generations. Without my assistance my clients will not as successfully save for retirement, be able to send their kids to good schools and ultimately will fall upon the state's assistance.
6. I urge you to consider fully the impact of what you are doing. Any attempt to instill a fiduciary standard on all registered representatives will lead to a slow erosion of successful savings by way of fewer participants in this career.
Mom and Pop America need us. Don't drive us out of business with new and unnecessary compliance.
Parth J. Rana, LUTCF