August 1, 2010
I hold series' 6 and 63 licenses for variable products. This fiduciary standard must NOT be implemented. Our industry is already very heavily regulated. My office has compliance announcements every morning. We have the compliance component of our firm element meeting every year. My files are personally audited on a bi-yearly basis. Everytime I turn around there is some compliance hurdle I must overcome before I can get back to serving the public. At some point, I may have to hire someone specifically to handle all my compliance issues.
The problem with the fiduciary standard, although there are several, is the ambiguity of "best interest". Of course I am always practicing in the best interest of my clients. I personally couldn't sleep at night if I were financially endangering people everyday. Consider this, although I am not charging my clients a fee for planning I have to make sure the product being placed is in fact suitable and here is why. My commisions are based on the longevity of the client's product retention.
My broker/dealer pays an upfront annualized commision based on one year's worth of premium received. Then every year after that I am scheduled to receive renewal commision on that product as long as that product stays in force. These renewal commisions, one day, will play a key role in my retirement. However, if the product is not suitable from the start, whether it was not suiting to the clients budget or it didn't do what the client needed it to do, the client likely will not keep the product very long.
If the product is cancelled withing the first 12 months, my commisions are reversed. If they cancel after the first twelve months, renewal commisions are not paid and my retirement is then affected.
If the product is in the annuity family, it is still in my best interest to do what is in the best interest of my clients because if they are satisfied with the work I do for them, they will continue to do business with me and purchase more products from me in the future as well refer me to their friends and family. If I screw my clients, I am screwing myself.
The bottom line is that it's also in MY best interest the client be sold a SUITABLE product that best suits THIER needs. That way everyone wins. Compliance, the client, and myself. If compliance gets to a point where I am so heavily regulated that my costs go through the roof with the staff I have to hire and increased errors and ommissions insurance I may not be able to remain in this industry. That means one less professional in the industry helping to prevent the public from trying to buy retirement products and financial plans through the internet. The general public doing their own financial planning through internet will be far more harmful.
It is my sincere request that my plea be heard and careful consideration be given to this new compliance proposal.
Austin R. Bustamante, LUTCF, LTCP