July 28, 2010
As helpful as the current reform legistlation is, true reform will not be realized until a "level playing field" is established between brokers and investment advisors by requiring all who provide investment advice to adhere to a FIDUCIARY standard with respect to their clients, ensuring that the client's interests are consistently placed ahead of the interests of the advice renderer.
My experience spanning more than fifteen years has shown me that the majority of consumers of financial/investment advice are, unfortunately, not savvy enough to know the difference between a fiduciary standard and the far less rigorous "suitability" standard. And as a result of their inability to make this vital distinction as consumers, they tend to be easy prey for purveyors of financial products looking merely to enrich themselves by "pushing product". As a fee-only advisor, fully fifty percent of my new clients had been sold very costly financial products (mutual funds, variable annuities, etc.) by brokers and commissioned salespeople--products that invariably were a better deal for the seller than they were for the buyer. To combat this, there needs to be a SINGLE standard that spans the entire industry, and that standard should be the fiduciary standard. Accordingly, I urge the SEC to use its influence to turn this key element of reform a long-needed reality.