August 4, 2010
RE: Fiduciary Standard
I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the issue of suitability versus fiduciary standards . I am a twenty year veteran of the insurance and investment profession. Every year that I have been in business the challenges of compliance have grown. We are the most highly regulated industry in the nation. Many of these regulations overlap each other. They add to the cost of doing business to the point where many of us are now having to make a decision as to whether we should continue our licensing or simply move away from that business. Based upon the available compensation one can only afford so much in staffing and there are only so many hours in the day.
Another very important issue and one that should be most relative to your responsibilities is to determine how the American public is best served. Today 83% of the population are served by those of us who are compensated by commissions. They are the group who could not afford nor justify paying a fee for the services. The fiduciary standard will simply favor the wealthy who already have the ability to be served by a fee-based planner. It will simply remove services from the rest of the population because they cannot afford the fee based approach and because it will reduce the number of people in the business.
The other issue that concerns me is that as it stands right now the SEC can only do reviews on about 9% of the representatives each year. How will this move impact the ability to regulate and supervise? Will it result in less supervision or will the agency continue to expand thus increasing the cost to the tax payer.
I would submit to you that all of us are already acting in the best interests of our clients. The few who are not, rarely stay in business very long. This change to a "fiduciary" standard will not prevent the Bernie Madoff's of the world from acting in the manner that they do and it will not result in a greater percentage of the population being served or a more limited group being better served. I would recommend that we continue to operate under the suitability standard.