August 30, 2010
-I have been a Financial Advisor for 16 years and have the following licenses, Series 6,63,65,and 7. I strongly feel that our current client fiduciary standards are high and rigously enforced. When I submit an application to invest money for my client I have to complete a sutibility form as to what is best for the client, explain all of the options available to him/her, find out what they really desire to accomplish, what assets they currently have, what they will need in the future and the time frame of that. They must sign off on all that we talked about and the course of action to take. Then I submit the application to my broker-dealer and they review all of the information and if they find it all ok then the transaction proceeds. If they have any questions on the application or the suitability of the transaction then they call me and we go over it again.
The planning is done with the best information available at the time and with the clients best interest in mind. In ongoing client visits we work to make sure the investment direction that was previously set up is still valid and that the clients wants and needs are the same. The suitability of the initial planning is revalidated.
When I first came into this profession the average client meeting took about 1 hour. Now it is very common to take 2 to 21/2 hours per visit, with much of this time just being taken to meet complience concerns. The commissions generated per hour, which provides compensation and covers my office and staff overhead, has actually fallen in recent years. If more layers of regulatory oversight are added upon me I will be forced to only serve my larger clients and drop the smaller ones as I just can not afford to service them. At that time I will also be forced to lay off some of my staff as I can no longer afford to pay them for the amount of income that comes in as a result of the service does not cover the cost of the employee.
The biggest problem with clients is not the lack of information as to how a product works or what it is composed of, it is the client becoming emotionally involved in the market, either greed or fear and then doing things that in the longterm are detrimental to their financial health. I spend a lot of time keeping my clients from doing something that will harm them. If I had more regulation and less income to perform this vital function, I will be forced to abandon those clients and move to fee based planning only for wealthy clients. The small client does not have the funds available to pay for fee for advice planning.
One last thing, I currently have errors and ommission insurance which costs me about 1% of my income per year. With liabilities of "fiduciary duty" my E O insurance could go up very significantly or not be offered at all. If that happens I will retire or change careers as unlimited liability exposure into the future makes this an untennable situation.
The current system is not broken and serves the investing populace very well. Yes, there are some cases of abuse but those can be fixed with enforcement of current standards of the SRO's. Please do not destroy not only an industry but also the availability of the average investor to superior service and advice at a very reasonable cost.
Michael J. Cryder