July 27, 2009
Much has been written in the main stream media and the financial services media about changes in the financial services regulatory oversight, particularly during the current market and economic downturn that has ravaged Americans retirement savings.
The first concern of both the American people and their government should be the growth and protection of the retirement accounts of all Americans. It is obvious that changes in the regulatory system are greatly needed.
The fear amongst those of us who offer full fiduciary services is that the current fiduciary standard of investment advisors will be watered down in order to fit into one regulatory scheme. This hardly seems to be in the retirement investing publics interest. If brokers want to give investment advice they should register as investment advisors subject to the full fiduciary standard.
It has also recently been suggested that investment advisors who draw their fees directly from their clients accounts be subject to unannounced examinations at the advisors expense in an effort to catch Ponzi schemes. This is likely to be most ineffective to such a goal and simply make business more difficult for the growing industry of investment advisors who put their clients first. Since investment advisors fees are set upon engagement, perhaps the better oversight process should be that clients sign authorization for specific percentages or amounts of fees to be deducted from their accounts. This authorization should then be submitted to the third party custodian of the investment assets whose software could be written to detect distributions that exceeded the authorized amounts. These authorizations may then be updated and signed annually.
Americans look to our government to provide the protections that secure the retirements of all, now and for future generations. I would encourage you to take into account these comments and like comments of others in your decision-making process for regulatory reform.
Kevin C. Paulsen, CFP®, RPA