October 27, 2010
I have been in the Financial Services industry for over 23 years and a licensed insurance professional and registered representative for over 12 years.
I support some parts of this rule and disagree with parts of the rule. I do support continuation of the 25 basis points fee that is used to ensure investors receive ongoing service and advice, and the SEC's proposed use of the terms "marketing and service fees" and "ongoing sales charge" in place of "12b-1 fees" to improve transparency in disclosure documents. This makes sense and will make my job easier. Fees should be out there and easy to understand for investors.
However, I object to the SEC permitting mutual funds to issue a new class of shares at net asset value that would allow broker-dealers to set their own sales charge and commission amount.
I am currently able to provide full service and advice to middle market customers, and this is my main market. With competition pushing the fees lower and lower, that means I get paid less and less to where I will no longer be able to provide this service to average people. We have to work in areas that allow us to earn an income and before long, this will to be an area where we cannot afford to spend any time. The investment decisions will all be managed by the mutual fund companies and their own personal interest as people fall away from advisor relationships. These companies will not be objective in what they are recommending as we are. Whether people like it or not, what we do for a living is important, it provides value, and we deserve to be paid for our expertise in guiding them in their financial journey. Anyone who knows anything about this business knows that it is investment planning and returns, not fees, that make the difference to the investor. We already have breakpoints to use and many share classes and platforms available to us to work out fees in the best way. We are not given any credit by anyone in government for what we do. We are all painted with the same brush and it is completely unfair. I am not big business. I am small business. I am independent and my business is to guide individuals to appropriate investments, strategies and risk management so they will not be a burden to themselves, their families or to our society. Don't take away our ability to do this.
As a result of this rule, it is likely that only upper-income investors who can afford assets-under-management arrangements or higher cost/higher service classes of shares will continue to receive personalized investment advice.
Investors with smaller fund account balances will be forced to self-direct their accounts if they wish to continue to own mutual funds because their advisors will no longer be able to afford to spend the time to guide and advise them, leaving discount brokerage fund platforms as the only affordable option for middle and lower market investors.
The people the SEC is trying to protect the most--middle and lower market investors-will be hurt the most, since they will be deprived of the guidance and service they need and deserve. And you are killing another industry of jobs while you are at it. I will not apologize for wanting to get paid for what I do. When clients are not happy, they can go somewhere else. Mine have not left, nor do I get any conflict on our fees. Aside from the initial sales process, it has not come up at all in my recent memory. I don't where the drive for this is coming from.Sincerely,
Keith J. Van Dell