August 17, 2010
August 17, 2010
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a financial planner and Investment Advisor Representative with over 30 client acounts handling $1 million assets under management. In my practice, I have been servicing clients under a fiduciary standard of care for 3 years. I strongly urge you to extend the Advisers Act fiduciary standard of care to all financial professionals who provide personalized investment advice to retail clients.
It is unfair to consumers that the quality of advice they receive from a financial professional is dependent on the professionals registration or title. Its no wonder consumers are confused, and do not know whether their financial professional is looking out for their best interests. I can tell you from my personal experience that adhering to the fiduciary standard of care and putting my clients interests ahead of my own benefits my clients and my business.
A fiduciary standard of care is important to me because it lets my clients know that my responsibility is to serve their needs first. Its also important that they know that conflicts of interest dont exist in the recommendations I am making. Having this standard apply to those involved in the providing investment advice in the financial services industry also gets clients and professionals on the same playing field in terms of the standard duty of care associated with the level of service and advice being given. This is especially important to consumers who lack the broader knowledge, awareness and education that an investment advisor can bring to the table in making an informed investment decision.
Void of this fiduciary standard of care, we can expect individual investors to continue to attempt to approach their investments with the same attitude of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong reasons, because they dont know who to trust. Establishing a fiduciary standard of care would allow all of us in the financial services industry to get back to doing what we do best, serving the clients needs best by giving relevant, unbiased advice and allowing the consumer decide what course of action suits them best.
My clients recognize and understand that the advice I give them is in their best interests, because: my loyalty is to them first I will advise them with utmost good faith I will manage any conflicts of interests that may harm them and disclose those conflicts to them I get paid for the advice I give them and the investments I select for them I am required to choose from the best investments available keeping their interests first and I can charge a fee or commissions based on their needs and preferences.
Adhering to the fiduciary standard of care does not limit my ability to provide my clients with appropriate services and products. As a fiduciary, I can choose to operate in a business model that is best for my client. The key is fully disclosing, and avoiding and fairly managing conflicts of interest. Providing financial advice with fiduciary accountability does not reduce services to middle Americans. It insures that the services consumers receive will be in their best interests -- not in the best interests of the financial intermediary or his or her company.
I urge you to recommend to Congress that it is necessary and appropriate in the public interest and for the protection of consumers to extend the fiduciary standard to broker-dealers, who provide personalized investment advice, and to initiate a rulemaking to achieve this long overdue consumer reform.
Josh Webskowski, CFP®