August 2, 2010
I have been a financial advisor for 27 years and hold advanced degrees in insurance and financial planning. In addition, I have been a member of my industry's professional association, NAIFA, and have adhered to its code of ethics for that entire time.
I am adding my comments concerning the fiduciary standard issue included in the Dodd-Frank legislation. The matter at hand is whether or not to impose the "sole best interest" standard on investment advisor representatives as opposed to the current "suitable" standard.
Most of my work for clients deals with insurance although I am a registered represetntative. Because I am an RR any fiduciary standard would apply whther or not I was dealing with a security. Such a "sole best interest" would be very difficult to uphold since an insurance solution or proposal is based on many different premises such as premium affordability, death benefit to premium ratio, term versus permanent coverage, living versus death only benefits, quality of issuing company, underwriting niches of various insurers and many more.
A sole best interest standard could create complications in compliance that might leave the client with the best interest policy but not the best solution. In addition, I am at a loss how "captive" companies, very high quality carriers, such TIAA-CREF, THRIVAENT, FARMERS, STATE FARM, USAA and others who only sell their products would be able to conduct business under the "sole best interest" standard.
I urge you to review to the information put before you by insustry experts and associations and field agents who live this situation every day in the pursuit of helping their clients. Yes, there are abuses by some, but the tiny percentage of agents who abuse their professional ethics will always exist and the actions of a few should not hamstring the service of the many. Please leave the "suitablity" standard which is already heavily complied with in place.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
Barry A. Cook, CLU, ChFC