August 6, 2010
Let me begin by saying that I am a huge proponent of consumer protection and believe in doing all we can to promote professionalism and ethics within the financial services industry. That said, things have gone too far and many good advisors have abandoned their practices and many citizens no go unserved. More regulation will only worsen this situation.
The fiduciary standards as proposed suggest that there is always a "best solution" for each client or situation. This is far from the truth and often the regulators who audit complaints don't fully understand what they are expected to place judgement on.
Financial planning is as much an art as it is a science. Planners need to be given room to do their jobs therby serving more of the public.
Some responsibility needs to be accepted by the consumer. Consumers have to research everything from the food they eat to the medical services that they utilize. Why should the financial services industry be subject to any stricter standards?
The industry provides guidance to the consumer by utilizing many license requirements. In addition, there are credentialling programs available such that consumers can identify those who have made a greater commmittment to education in their field. There are assoications such as the Society of Financial Service Providers which provide onging educational opportunities, and a code of Professional Responsibility.
More regulation will only make professional advice less accessible to the general public. Please don't make this mistake.