I have been a licensed insurance professional for over 20 years, including the sales of variable products. I am writing to urge the SEC to dissaprove the new proposal, NASD Rule 2821. I continue to believe that this rule is unnecssary because current regulations provide protection to consumers very nearly identical to what Rule 2821 is attempting to provide. This proposed rule contains duplications of the current supervision and suitability requirements already in place, such as Rule 2310. Those rules apply to the sales of all securities, which includes variable annuities.
While I firmly support the prosecution of those who engage in misleading sales practices, I believe the NASD has not justified the need for additional rules. It is my understanding that unsuitable variable annuity sales comprise less than 1% of the NASD's disciplinary actions over the past several years; it is also my understanding that complaints about individual securities and mutual funds vastly outpace those about variable annuities.
Another existing rule, 3010, already provides for general supervision by a principal; the proposed Rule 2821 complicates and deviates from already existing supervision requirements. This new requirement actually sets up additional roadblocks & biases against variable annuities as a product, which then leads to a supervising person constantly questioning the suitability of my recommendations to my customers. My clients are extremely important to me, and I strive constantly to educate them, to stay current with their needs and desires and to provide product solutions to fit their risk profiles, their time frame and their indvidiual situation. My supervising principle only knows the client "on paper"; how can they possibly know better than I do what is approporiate for my client?
If regulators truly want to protect the consumers, then pursue enforcement of the existing suitability rule. Please don't keep adding new rules & regulations until proper enforcement of the existing rules have been followed and until there is more data to support the NASD's claims about the level of sales problems of this product.
I believe that the NASD solution, as proposed in Rule 2821, is one that could cause much more harm than good. These products benefit many people, and the adoption of Rule 2821 would likely result in making them less available in the marketplace. It could certainly adversely impact both my business and the financial security of my future clients.
In closing, I urge the SEC to disapprove NASD proposed Rule 2821. Thank you for your consideration.
Georgia H. Ford, CLU, ChFC
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