July 2, 2018
Dear Sir or Madam,
I would like to voice my opinion on the efforts to create Best Interest standards. While I appreciate the efforts to tighten standards, I do not think this is the right fit. First, the new standard is less strict than the existing rules for Fiduciary Standards. The Fiduciary standard has developed out of many years of best practices, case law and regulations and is the gold standard. Do we really need to add confusion and complexity with a less stringent rule? How will consumers differentiate? While it may mean change for parts of the industry, a Fiduciary model is a quite viable model for providing advice. Any firm interested in taking on that standard will have plenty of resources for a transition; NAPFA, Alliance of Comprehensive Planners, Garrett Planning Network, XY Planning Network and so on..
If firms choose not to adopt Fiduciary Standards, I think they should be allowed to maintain a sales model. They should just be transparent about that by not calling themselves “Advisors” or “Planners”. Regulate the titles and marketing associated with Financial Planning and Investment Advice and limit the Advisory based titles to Fiduciary Advisors only. Consumers are ok with commission transactions; car buying, house buying, etc. However, they know that those professionals are commissioned and in a sales role. We can keep the same simple distinction for true planning and advice vs. sales in our industry.
Thank you for your consideration on this matter.
Jacob D. Kuebler, CFP®, EA
Bluestem Financial Advisors, LLC