August 25, 2010
The suitability standard currently being used is not adequate for the protection of consumers. All financial professionals involved in recommending securities and insurance products to the public should be held to the fiduciary standard.
Under the current rule, it can be "suitable" for an individual to buy an investment product (i.e. bond, mutual fund, annuity) but it might not be in their best interest to do so. I believe this is the single greatest cause of injury to consumers in our industry.
It is never in anyone's best interest to buy investment products from intermediaries who are not required to act in good faith. To think otherwise is simply unconscionable.
Financial intermediaries should be required to disclose ALL material facts to consumers including ALL costs, ALL compensation arrangements and ALL existing conflicts of interest. Under the current suitability rules, this is not always the case.
The SEC is being presented with an opportunity to right a system that in many circumstances, operates in complete contradiction to what is in the best interest of consumers. To that end, I hope you will require that All financial intermediaries practice under the fiduciary standard.