I have been in the financial services industry for 25 years in a variety of roles from a sales person to a home office marketing vice president. a. I am writing to you concerning the suitability standard and principal review requirements pertaining to the sale of variable annuities contained in NASD proposed Rule 2821. The proposed rule's requirements are redundant, unnecessary, will provide no meaningful additional protection to consumers and will adversely impact the industry while having no positive effect. I urge the SEC to disapprove the proposal.
By all means people who engage in misleading sales practices should be aggressively prosecuted and subject to appropriate sanctions. In addition, the NASD has failed to adequately justify the need for the proposed rule. To the contrary, the available data does not support the NASD's claims that the level of sales problems in the variable annuity marketplace calls for the adoption of the proposed rule. Unsuitable variable annuity sales made up less than one half of one percent of the NASD's disciplinary actions over the last five years. Complaints about mutual funds and individual securities far outnumber those concerning variable annuities. Furthermore, the vast majority of the comments received by the NASD and SEC regarding the proposal opposed the new rule, and the NASD has not adequately responded to the concerns raised by the vast majority of commentators.
Proposed Rule 2821 duplicates current supervision and suitability requirements that are already in place. If regulators really want to protect consumers, appropriate enforcement of the existing suitability rule rather than adopting a new rule is the answer.
Lastly, the additional costs of implimenting these redundant ruls will have to be absorbed you the companies who will pass them on to the consumers which will reduce the return on the investment made by the consumer, thereby hurting the persons who the NASD says they are trying to protect.
The NASD proposal is a solution in search of a problem that could ultimately harm consumers by making these products less available to people who could benefit from them. For these reasons, I urge the SEC to disapprove NASD proposed Rule 2821. Thank you for your consideration of my views on this matter.