August 3, 2010
The suitability standard governing broker-dealers and registered representatives is a robust and heavily enforced standard. The proposed fiduciary standard governing investment advisers will be very difficult to apply as the definitions of what's in the best interest of the client has multiple options as clients needs change with time and situations.
Compliance costs-both in terms of finances and time-are high, and those costs are eventually felt by clients. Adding another layer of regulation means another layer of compliance, and even more cost to clients.
Currently holding Series 7, 24 65 and insurance licenses require continuous education and annual firm elements to keep this certifications. Just to keep in compliance requires a lot of dedication and time consuming filing, analysis and updating with the latest regulation. Compliance is good business practice requiring dedicated personnel to supervise the whole practice.
For the fiduciary standard this would increase additional costs that will have to be passed to the client which will be left with no other option once the fiduciary standard is imposed.
Currently the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. requires this fiduciary standard in advisors dealing with clients thus offering this option for those clients who require having the fiduciary standard as the norm. They can choose those advisors who have the CFP designation.
I believe there is no need to change the current suitability standard in the financial services industry.