August 23, 2004
To the Commission,
I am sending this comment to the Commission urging it to WITHDRAW, not amend, the rule proposal. I believe the rule is harmful to consumers by creating two different standards of conduct for persons offering financial planning services: a higher fiduciary standard for registered investment advisers and a lower one under NASD suitability rules.
The rule also exempts, in effect, brokers from being required to disclose conflicts of interest in connection with their offer of financial planning services.
This is not right--it legitimizes deceptive practices for greedy and dishonest salespeople, and because of in-house contests, encourages and pressures even the more honorable salespeople to follow along. Naive customers have no way of knowing that a sale is really only in the salespersons best interest, not the customer.
Read any newspaper and youll see brokers advertising the investment advisory component of their services. I know of no broker who has ever told customers that his or her role is limited to selling products, and that if they want financial advise they should go elsewhere. In our geographical area, these salespeople even buy radio time to give the impression they are investment advisors and financial planners. They never inform listeners or callers that it is really an hour-long infomercial.
Most of my clients have come from brokers and others who sell inappropriate products laden with heavy and obscure commissions -- the only costs my clients were ever aware of, at best, were those associated with up front commissions -- no disclosure of favored mutual funds, reward trips to Jamaica or Hawaii, or quick chunks of money to the salesperson. No conflict of interest disclosures because of kickbacks and other incentive payoffs to the broker.
The rule proposal is in effect until final action is taken by the Commission, but it should be withdrawn immediately--havent we learned anything from the scandals the past few years? Even in small town American, corruption runs rampant -- dont legitimize it with this rule. Please withdraw the rule finally and now. Thank you very much for your attention to this urgent request.