September 14, 2004
I remember reading a news story in the 1980s, about the trial of a woman accused of selling unsuitable limited partnerships. In her testimony, she talked about how as an advisor, she had a responsibility to provide the best advice possible to her clients, but when selling products this obligation did not exist. She referred to the change as taking off her advisor hat and putting on her salesperson hat. The judge then asked to see the hats. It turns out - SURPRISE - that the hats do not exist.
Now everyone who sells products uses this excuse, if they can - i.e. if they fall under the proposed rule exempting them from being fiduciaries. How can the hapless consumer tell? They cant. So, either the SEC should mandate that the folks who call themselves advisors but use this exemption actually have two hats that say, oh, FIDUCIARY and SALESPERSON which they use where appropriate, or they take the logical approach, and stop allowing advisors brokers, salespersons, they all pretend to be advisors to hide behind this rule you have never had the guts to actually pass. WITHDRAW it and bury it forever.
William C. Jerome, CFP