August 24, 2010
As a practicing, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, I am always conscious of better standards, both practical and ethical, to apply in my practice. However, for the sake of an analysis to go looking for a problem is certainly a waste of resources for the SEC and for my colleagues who are also registered representatives with various broker-dealers.
Annually, there is compliance training that takes considerable time, but is crucial to reviewing the regulations in place by SEC and FINRA. Also, with my CFP designation, I also am required to complete at least 30 hours of CFP-approved courses in addition to other industry training to renew my designation.
I am insurance-licensed in several states in the West. I have been in the insurance and securites practice for over 33 years. I have seen many changes, mostly good, that have improved the way I am doing business.
What you are proposing with a fiduciary standard is to discover a problem that has already occurred. With the suitability standards placed on me by my broker-dealer, I am guided from the beginning to avoid any potential problems and/or conflicts with clients.
This is a much better standard to apply. It starts at the first meeting with a client, and is reviewed during the financial planning process. Suitability standards have worked when adhered to. Those who have complaints lodged against them, "simply did not follow the suitability rules as required". I simply shake my head when I read of registered reps who did not follow the regulations and the law. They deserve to be sanctioned, but not at the expense of a largely-compliant industry and its licensed sales force.
I work with clients who are grateful for the services I provide. Ever heavier regulations make it difficult to determine if my practice needs to change in order to pay the increased costs of remaining in business. With baby boomers starting to turn 65, there is even a greater need for financial planners. Use forward-thinking processes to allow me and my colleagues to assist these clients in the coming years.
Olin K. Barkdull
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER