I am a licensed insurance professional and variable product salesperson. I am writing to you concerning the suitability standard and principal review requirements pertaining to the sale of variable annuities contained in NASD proposed Rule 2821. I feel that as the latest NASD proposal includes several amendments made to earlier versions of the proposal, the proposed rule's requirements are redundant. I believe we need to enforce existing rules before we enact new regulations. I respectfully request the SEC disapprove the proposal.
I firmly believe people who engage in misleading sales practices should be aggressively prosecuted and subject to appropriate sanctions. However, the available data does not support the NASD's claims that the level of sales problems in the variable annuity marketplace calls for the adoption of the proposed rule. The sale of unsuitable variable annuity made up less than .50 percent of the NASD's disciplinary actions over the last five years. Complaints about mutual funds and individual securities far outnumber those concerning variable annuities.
I believe the proposed Rule 2821 duplicates current supervision and suitability requirements already found in NASD rules (including Rule 2310). These already contain suitability requirements that apply to all sales of securities, including variable annuities. In my opinion the best way for regulators to protect consumers is through appropriate enforcement of the existing suitability rule rather than adopting a new rule.
In addition, the requirement for review by a principal found in the proposed rule deviates in several significant ways from the general supervision requirements found in Rule 3010. This requirement appears to present a bias against these products, and will lead to constant second guessing of my advice and recommendations (based upon less first hand information than was available to me).
To be sure, there have been situations where these products have been improperly placed by those whose only interest is their own gain. Those invloved in this manner of behavior should be dealt with firmly through existing regulations. I believe, however, that the proposed new rule could ultimately harm consumers by making these products less available to the appropriate people who could benefit from them. For these reasons, I urge the SEC to disapprove NASD proposed Rule 2821. Thank you for your consideration of my views on this matter.