August 6, 2010
The new fiduciary standards that the SEC is looking to implement will encourage litigious-minded investors to seek re-dress if their investment values go down. Despite the myriad of documents that clients are required to sign saying that they understand their investment objectives, time horizons, risk tolerance, etc., everyone knows that implementing a fiduciary standard assigns responsibility (and blame) ultimately to the Registered Representative, who is already under onerous, but, at least, understandable regulation. A new fiduciary standard is unfair to the advisory community, the investing public, the SEC and our citizenry, who support the efforts of the SEC because it does not solve the problem of unethical advisors they are a matter for their broker-dealers and for their liability carriers. The SEC will never be able to legislate unethical behavior that occurs inside of an advisory relationship and the resulting transactions that are following all the rules. SEC/FINRA are to be congratulated for implementing annual money laundering and other advisory alert systems. They are effective because they extend the "watchdog" role outside of SEC/FINRA to make all investment professional part of the solution. When an advisor works in an atmosphere where his/her peers view themselves as "watchdogs," it's contaigious. It's harder to operate as a renegade in a "watchdog" environment. Place your attention and your resources here, not on new systems that make tax-paying citizens angry, encourage contrary investor behavior (inappropriate lawsuits), and set up, from the very start, a contentious relationship between an advisor and client. All of the redundant paperwork that advisors and clients must sign off on do nothing to prevent unethical behavior. Adding another layer of fiduciary standards does nothing to treat the problem. It does treat the press and the interests of the SEC and FINRA who can report they are continuing to do their due diligence on behalf of the investing public. It's like giving everyone chemotherapy so they never get cancer. It's dangerous, unhealthy, and does not treat the real problem, which is, ultimately, the greed in human nature. That's what liability companies are for. Vote NO on fiduciary standards.