July 30, 2010
I believe that you are imposing a misguided Fiduciary Standard on Registered Representative. Registered Representatives are regulated enough. I disagree that the fiduciary standard has protected consumers better. Basically, the fiduciary standard looks back and enforces breaches retroactively through SEC enforcement or private lawsuits. The suitability standard looks forward and tries to prevent harm to consumers through ongoing and frequent FINRA and broker-dealer audits and compliance processes.
The Dodd-Frank Act permits the SEC to require that all broker-dealers be held to the same legal fiduciary requirement investment advisers have when providing advice to clients. Should the SEC choose to us that authority, the fiduciary duty as defined by the Dodd-Frank Act would require that all broker-dealers be held to a legal and vaguely defined standard to act in the best interest of the customer without regard to the financial or other interest of the broker-dealer, or investment adviser providing the advice. While we believe we are already acting in the best interest of the client the Act does not define what the rules are for compliance with a legal best interest standard - - thus subjecting the registered representatives to the potential of never ending lawsuits. For example, is the best the cheapest recommended product? The best premium relative to the benefit of the product? The product with the best historic underwriting and service Standards? The fiduciary standard in essence adds a vague legal liability standard that looks back (sometimes after many years) and is enforced after the fact by the SEC or trail lawyers who have perfect vision in hindsight.
Compliance cost are both high in terms of finances and time, and those costs are eventually felt by clients. Thus adding another layer of regulation means another layer of compliance, and even more cost to clients. Please do not impose this Misguided Fiduciary Standard on Registered Representatives.
Thank You for your consideration of this request.
John W. Bounds