August 28, 2010
To whom it may concern:
I have worked as a financial services professional over the past 25 years at many different levels, from life insurance agent to Investment Advisor Representative. I have watched over the years how carefully my profession has been ever more scrutinized. As a Registered Representative,I am fully aware of all of the dos and don'ts of my profession. The various companies I have worked for have all been sticklers for compliance issues, and Penn Mutual/HTK is no exception.
I understand the well meaning motivation of the law makers in Washington who desire to protect the consumer. Putting the consumer first has always been my doctrine. The problem is always in the details: how do you define what is best for the customer? To some customers, the lowest price is best, even though they may be purchasing from a company that is not as strong as others. I saw the fallout from this some years back when Conseco was marketing the lowest priced long term care policies available, only to turn around a few years later and raise the prices dramatically. To some customers, the rating of the company is paramount, even though the product may cost more relative to other products. No company I have ever worked for has every possible product, and each company has their clear strengths. As a representative of Penn Mutual, I look for opportunities to promote the strengths of my company, but I am free to sell numerous other products from other companies as well. Where there is a good fit, I sell my company's product. Where there is not, I sell another company's product.
I believe that my industry is now very well regulated and scrutinized. FINRA has done a fine job. I believe that subjecting all insurance agents to the same standard as an Investment Advisor Representative would create unnecessary costs which would ultimately be passed on to the consumer. More and more agents would start charging fees for advisement, which would dramatically limit one's customer base. Many of my clients are of modest means and could not afford fees, which is primarily why I do not charge them. To implement this standard would basically change this industry from one that serves people at every financial level to one that primarily serves the wealthy. Most of my customers would be left behind. I would urge you to keep the excellent standards that are now in place and not turn this industry into something that will truly not serve the average American.
Thank you for your consideration.
Robert E. Frank CFS, ChFC, CLU, LUTCF