August 27, 2010
I am a certified financial planner and a registered representative of a registered investment advisor. Our company has 200 or so clients with about $200 million in assets under management. I have been advising investment clients for ten years and accounting clients for 35 years previous to that. I have always acted under a fiduciary standard in provding advice. Always put the clients' interests first, that is what they expect (otherwise they would not seek out a professional), that is what they pay for and that is what they deserve. Clients that we have advised over the years have come to expect this and have appreciated the service.
While we have plenty of regulations to deal with already-remember this is a small business-the American public deserves to have one standard of care when they seek financial advice (even if it does cause us to deal with another regulation or two). The standard of care of "suitability" is not, and I repeat, is not the same as "in the clients' best interests". It never has been and it never will be. If a financial advisor is not going to act in the clients' best interests-and this is what they really expect when they come to you-this should be clearly disclosed to the clients.
Providing financial advice with fiduciary accountibility does not reduce services to middle Americans (or any other part of the marketplace for that matter). I urge a recommendation to Congress that 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 most of the time they do), and to initiate a rulemaking to achieve this long overdue consumer reform.