August 16, 2010
As a Certified Financial Planner working in this industry for the past 10 years and the current President of our local professional association representing 250 members, I feel that I have a unique view of our industry as a whole. We are regulated far too much as it is and the idea that you will further burden the industry with more regulations is ridiculous. Bernie Madoff swindled over $50 Billion from his clients, all the while under the watchful eye of the SEC, an agency that received six substantive complaints about Madoff—including one dating back to 1992—and carried out three examinations and two inspections of Madoff's firm, but nonetheless failed to detect his fraud.
Fraud exists in every industry, it cannot be eradicated. The reality is that all these regulations do is create further burdens upon those that work legally and ethically while the crooks thumb their noses at you. You may not think that these regulations are a big deal, but consider this, for me to simply be in the business each year I am forced to spend over $15,000 a year on these regulations. Im not even a large producer, many others spend far more. Do these regulations make my clients any wealthier or financially safe? No, they simply add to the cost of doing business which I am then forced to try and pass onto the consumer.
Many more people would be in the investment business today if it werent for all these costs and burdens you put on the broker. Each year, I have colleagues that get out of the business of investments because of the issues they are forced to deal with. This shrinkage causes a shortage of good professionals in the business and drives up costs for the consumers.
Another thing that these regulations do is cause a false sense of security for the investors. The investor thinks that all these regulations protect them and that they can invest in anything they want and it will be safe. This lowering of the guard is a prime reason why someone like Bernie Madoff can get away with his scheme for so long.
Much of this discussion is being driven by political reasons that have nothing to do with actually helping people. The 30 second sound bite on TV of tougher regulations may give you some political cover for the short term, but ask yourself if the consumer in the end will actually be helped or harmed by these actions. As someone who has to deal with your decisions, it is my request that you leave the laws that are on the books as they are. More regulation is not always the answer.
Adam Kilbourn, CFP, CLU