August 6, 2010
Please do not impose a legal fiduciary standard on broker-dealers and their registered representataives. Basically, the fiduciary standard looks back and enforces breaches retroactively through SEC enforcement or private lawsuits. The suitability standard, which I regard as a superior means of compliance enforcement, looks forward and tries to prevent harm to consumers through ongoing and frequent FINRA and broker-dealer audits and compliance processes. The suitability standard is working, but please be aware it imposes already significant compliance burdens of time and money expenses on me as a registered representative. I hold state FINRA licenses in about 14 different states. I pay about $1,000.00 per year to maintain those state liceneses. Each year I take at least four firm element examinations through my broker-dealer in securities regulations and market conduct. New securities account documentation is extensive and time consuming. I can spend two hours or more creating the fact finders and new client file documentation for each new client account. Moving to a fee-for-financial planning service only model will impose additional expenses, some of which the general public will be unwilling or unable to pay. The cost of my professional liability insurance will rise. Suitability standards already serve the "best interests" of the investment client. The proposed fiduciary standard of market conduct does not define clearly what the "best interests" of the investment client are. Is "best" the cheapest product? Or the "best" premium relative to product benefits? Is the "best" product the one from a bigger more financially strong corporation? Or the one from a corporation with a high financial rating? Questions of these kinds will arise again and again and will create a vague legal liability standard under which I will have to work, subjecting me to the potential of never ending lawsuits. Please use the existing suitability standards to regulate market conduct.