As the Department of Labor prepares to roll out new rules, which would require investment companies, brokers and advisors to put the interest of retirement savers first, our guest Ray Ferrara, former Chair of the CFP Board, joins us to discuss the fiduciary standard and why the financial services industry should embrace, not fight it. Ray has been one of the key players involved in the national debate surrounding the rules that should govern financial advice and was one of the experts who testified before The Employee Benefits Security Administration, the DOL division responsible for spearheading the change. We began the conversation with an explanation of the proposal, which would require that retirement investment professionals not only be held to a higher standard of putting clients first, but they would also have to fully disclose and eliminate conflicts of interest that exist.
The Financial Planning Coalition, a collaboration of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board), the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), strongly supports the DOL’s proposed rule and notes:
"Retirement investors face a perfect storm in the financial services marketplace. With ever-increasing responsibility for their own retirements and the need to choose from an increasingly complex set of financial products and services, retirement investors more than ever need competent financial advice that is in their best interest. Yet the current regulatory framework allows advisers’ interests to be misaligned with the interests of retirement investors; it does not require advisers to clearly and openly disclose the standard of conduct under which they operate or their actual or potential conflicts of interest; and it permits market practices under which retirement investors are simply unable to distinguish advisers who provide fiduciary-level services from those who do not."
This rule could be a game-changer for the industry. No longer will companies be able to sell opaque, expensive products that once were deemed "suitable" but will not pass the fiduciary smell test. And if you hear complaints from the industry, saying that the rule will mean that they will no longer be able to serve the middle class, I say, THANK GOODNESS! That means that they can no longer peddle their expensive, clunky products, like variable annuities or non-traded real estate investment trusts. And if they choose to raise minimums or fees, consumers have plenty of choices, like services offered by Betterment or Rebalance-IRA, which offer ease and simplicity at a fraction of the cost that those big firms charge.
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