July 28, 2010
I am a strong believer in doing what is right for each client. Our firm is set up to allow us to operate under several different compensation structures, depending on the client's situation and needs.
My biggest fear regarding the fiduciary regulation is that, for clients who only need an insurance product (life insurance, long-term care insurance, etc.) and not a comprehensive plan, the agent-agency legal relationship that all insurance companies use would prevent an advisor from helping the client secure the insurance they need. How can an advisor represent the insurance company and the client, when they want to do the best thing for the client?
What is needed is a system that allows the financial planner to recommend and help purchase products that are best for the client, while remaining under the fiduciary requirements. This may require modifications in the relationships between advisors and insurance companies and/or investment companies.
Without this, advice for the middle class and upper middle class, who so desperately need financial guidance but cannot afford (or need to) pay for a comprehensive financial plan, will wrongly perceive the advice they get as second-rate or biased since it has to fall under the suitability rules instead of fiduciary rules.