August 2, 2010
The suitability standard governing broker-dealers and registered representatives is a robust and heavily enforced standard. 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.
I hold the series 6 and 63, insurnace licenses for property casualty and life/health. All these licenses require on going continued education including ethics training requirements. In addition I have earned the CFP, CLU, ChFC designations which also require on going continued education in all areas of insurance and finances and they too require ethics classes.
My clientele primarily is middle america - the area I operate in are not investing $100,000's of dollars - many of my clients start investing as little as $100 per month. With the liabilities of a fiduciary duty I may be forced to go to a fee only model to protect myself from liabilty. These clienst would cease to be served as they would not be able to afford or want to pay up front fees.
The Dodd-Frank Act would require all broker-dealers to be held to a legal and vaguely defined standard "to act in the best interest of the customer". The Act does not define what the rules are for compliance with a legal "best interest" standard - subjecting registered representatives to the potential of never ending lawsuits.