June 23, 2016
I am in strong favor of strong reform and regulation of the financial advisement industry. I recently lost approximately $35,000 to what was in my opinion a fraudulent financial adviser. He sold me a number of financial products to maximize his commission and did not disclose the massive fees that would be associated with the products. He did manage to coerce me into signing paperwork that he quickly put in front of me that said he had provided me with copies of the product's prospectus, but that was only to cover his liability. I received no such disclosure and after a year into having his products, I realized what poor investments he sold me.
One particular product was variable universal life insurance. In my opinion this product should be illegal. The fees approached 30% of my investment (which were never disclosed to me) and the surrender fee on the product was $45,000 - again, never disclosed to me. After finally comprehending what I had been sold, I realized the product only benefited two parties - the sales person and the insurance company. The commission paid to the sales person was more than some people make in a year, which is why the product implemented a $45,000 surrender fee.
I strongly urge the SEC to take further steps to control the fraudulent activity of financial advisers like Fred Shlesinger with Principal Financial who are literally stealing from their clients and locking them into poor investments that drain their finances for decades.
I work in the real estate industry, and I wish that financial advisers were held to even half of the standards of my industry. Buyers and sellers of residential real estate receive multiple easy to read disclosures of the fees they are being charged as part of their purchase or sale of a home. Millions if not billions of dollars are being stolen from the general public by financial advisers every year and it needs to be stopped. Please take action to regulate these crooks and hold them accountable for their actions.
I will attach the letter I sent to Principal Financial this year in an effort to close my accounts and have my money refunded. They declined to give back my money and I eventually closed my accounts and forfeited the balance of the vul life insurance account because of the high surrender fee (predatory in my opinion).