August 30, 2010
In the early 1990's many of my tax preparation and life/disability insurance clients began requesting my services as a registered representative of mutual funds. Mostly serving employees of non-profit organizations, I agreed to their requests and became licensed to offer products that other registered reps were not willing to sell them. Lack of dollar account size and proper guidance/advice were the primary causes for the expressed need because other registered reps were not willing to help them with their financial planning needs and the funding of those needs.
Therefore, to the proposed inforcement of "fiduciary standard" for all equity sale transactions, I am concerned my clients will not have a choice for obtaining proper guidance/advice regardless of their dollar account size. Personally, yes, I have chosen to serve these clients with lower account balances. Going forward, however, with a fiduciary enforcement (including lack of 12b-1 fees), will challenge my ability to pay for licensing fees, errors and ommissions coverage, necessary internal/FINRA generated compliance mandates, etc.
My current average account size is $38.8k. Under a required "fiduciary standard" My average account size will need to be $125k because I see no alternative but a delivery system composed of fee based advisors or advisors working directly for a captive firm which can lead to conficts of interests. My clients cannot afford such fees. It is not prudent for them to attempt to enter into such a fee based relationship either.
Finally, and as an example, I ask the SEC to ask employees of large 401k employer sponsored plans - How often do you get proper advise and guidance from the actual professional representing this plan to you? My experience tells me "nada to never" Hence, to require a "fiduciary standard" will be disingenous to the professional and excude the lower income consumer from purchasing financial products important to their financial needs.