July 28, 2010
Whether adhering to standards of suitability or fiduciary standards, on the surface, shouldn't matter to a broker. Tne differences in definition don't seem very apparent. However, questioning a brokers adherence to suitability standards could cost a broker his/her license and a fine. If a broker breaches fiduciary standards i'm sure the penalties are more severe to the broker than those applied in violating suitabiltiy standards. I imagine that if the SEC could successfully prosectue a "big" case against a broker the penalties could be larger than the income earnings ability for the typical broker. So, if the broker risks more than his income earning ability will that make him more honest? Or will it convince honest brokers not to risk his reputation and assets against the background of a litigious society. Do you scare away the better quality broker who doesn't want to play "chicken" with the SEC.
In conclusion the broker faces more than adequate oversight thru the suitability standard. Maybe, Wall Street and the banks should be held accountable at the executive levels of management. In the area of products sold to clients care should be taken as to the risk profile of the product selection available to clients, i. e. Structured notes. Better reverse engineering of these products should raise many red flags. These red flags should concern Management and there is the starting point to protecting the public. Firms will protect not current earnings but future reputation.