July 28, 2010
Dear SEC Study Administrators,
I am pleased that you are asking for comments. I now largely do retirement annuities with Baby Boomers and seniors. I have been in the business for 23 years. I also do life insurance, group health insurance, and mutual funds. The securities and equity-indexed annuities I do are through my Broker Dealer, Questar Capital Corporation.
I feel that I have always been honest with prospects and clients. I always try, to the extent possible, to gather enough information about prospects and clients to put myself in their financial positions, and then recommend what I would do for them, as I would for myself. But I also always say to them "I am NOT objective. I will try to recommend the BEST product for you. I will then implement that product if you agree with my recommendation and monitor that product with you in the future."
I have always earned just commissions when I have recommended and implemented financial products. I have never earned a fee. TO EARN A FEE AT THE SAME TIME I EARN A COMMISSION IS TO ME A CONFLICT OF INTEREST. When RIAs try to do financial plans for clients and then try to earn commissions to implement those plans, I feel that they cannot possibly be OBJECTIVE, as they should be. Incidentally, I often see where a financial planner provides an extensive financial plan but then lets it sit for lack of skills in implementing particular financial product. Perhaps all financial planners and RIAs should be barred from implementing any financial products they recommend once they earn a fee for the financial advice. Then, they can more honestly claim they are acting as a FIDUCIARY for that client.
After 23 years I feel that I know the BEST products to recommend once I get a good idea of prospects or clients financial objectives. So, to me, that means that once I have an idea of a person's particular financial objective, I recommend and try to implement that product at that time. I am NOT doing a COMPLETE FINANCIAL PLAN for anyone. So, I do not see how I am then acting as a FIDUCIARY for that client. Accordingly, if a Financial Planner or a RIA were to, say, recommend that one of their fee-paying clients should do an equity-indexed annuity, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to see that they obtain the best equity-indexed annuity available for them.
All of the regulatory bodies I subject the products I recommend and implement to, such as insurance companies, state insurance departments, FINRA, my Broker Dealer, and the SEC all must consider that I have acted in an honest way and value-added way toward prospects and clients, and that the products I recommend and implement have at a minimum been SUITABLE for these persons. I think that this process is GOOD and serves EVERYONE BEST.
ONE LAST THING. It is my experience that maybe 90% of prosepcts or clients want financial advice, but maybe only 10% want to pay a FEE for this advice. It is also obvious to me that most Americans deserve good financial advice, which I feel I have provided for their particular financial objectives thousands of times in my career.
MOST AMERICANS simply cannot afford to retain a FINANCIAL PLANNER (capital F and capital P), and most financial planners don't even want to work with lower income people. IF THE SEC promulgates regualations to make me, and all other insurance agents and Registered Reps, adopt a FIDUCIARY relationship for each prospect or client, lower income Americans will be priced out of the financial advice and financial product business, don't you agree?
Sincerely, Frank R. Prazma, CLU, ChFC