October 27, 2010
I have been a licensed insurance professional and registered representative for 35 years. I work with business owners and their employees to help them achieve financial independence through proper insurance and financial planning. We continually update our systems to add value in an ever-changing marketplace.
I support transparency. I support new SEC rule 12b-2, which would continue the 25 basis points fee that is used to ensure investors receive ongoing service and advice, and the SECs proposed use of the terms marketing and service fees and ongoing sales charge in place of 12b-1 fees to improve transparency in disclosure documents.
However, I strongly object to the SEC permitting mutual funds to issue a new class of shares at net asset value that would allow broker-dealers to set their own sales charge and commission amounts. Either have "no load" funds or a load funds with regulated 12b-2 fees. Do not have the broker-dealer involved with the pricing as this will result in a smaller investor loosing an economical investment option. We touch our clients 20 times per year with newsletters, updates,telephone reviews and meetings. As broker-dealers lower their sales charges and fees in an effort to gain market share, it will no longer be financially feasible for us to continue to provide the level of individualized advice without charging a fee through the broker dealer which will have a higher net cost to the investor than the current arrangement. Many clients will decline this approach, be under served and will under plan. This will result in more people requesting assistance from social plans that are already over burdened. Just look at Medicare and Social Security, they were never intended to pay all expenses. Who will deliver the message?
The people the SEC are trying to protect the smaller investors—will be hurt the most, since they will not receive the guidance and service they need to achieve financial independence. We see this now with life insurance. The compensation system no longer allows for one on one meetings. We are trying to address this with technology with limited success. When we are asked whether we will meet to discuss issues and explain there will be a $250 fee to meet or we can communicate by email, we see many people choose not to proceed. We have longer term clients where we are receiving no revenue on older life policies and if there is no other revenue source, and they will not agree to a fee, we instruct them on how to "self-service". This is tough with a death claim, where the beneficiary has little knowledge of the conversations with the deceased policy holder. But if we have a client with several programs with our office where we receive fair compensation, we look at the total account and service all plans as a package. If there is an established account and these rules change and a client chooses to switch to an arrangement where we receive little or no compensation, we are not in a position to assist without the client agreeing to a fee.