August 6, 2010
I have over 30 years experience in the Financial Services business. I have not had one singe complaint today as I conduct my business following the Golden Rule and MDRT Creed of Ethics. My business is already heavy regulated and me compliance department continues to add more and more responsibilities on me to document my recommendations to clients. I have seen billboards and ads that encourage lawsuits against financial advisers for the losses that occurred in 2008. Everyone wants to have someone else to blame and wants recovery.
Adding Fiduciary responsibility to advisers is not the answer. I try to keep my fees as low as possible, but will not be able to do so if my E O increases and my paperwork increases. Will higher fees help consumers?
I may be forced to shut down my practice just to avoid the liability of baseless lawsuits. Is that in the best interest of the consumer and the economy? There are already too many rules and too many forms. What I don't see enough of is enforcement of "white collar crime". Too often, advisers who do wrong by their clients are fined but there is very little publicity when someone goes to jail for a white collar crime. Often these cases are considered not violent and if it's a first offense, the cases are pleaded out with minor punishments.
Stealing is stealing and the punishment for fraud should be the same as for armed robbery. And we should publicize when the courts send these people to jail. Don't handcuff the good advisers who are doing their best to help clients navigate these financial waters. Otherwise the consumer will be alone in a rowboat with only his cell phone and laptop. Who will he blame then?