One reason I truly admire NAIFA members is that you need a very thick skin to do your jobs. You and your colleagues are dedicated to serving your clients and ensuring the financial security of 75 million American families. Yet, whenever you are dealing with the finances of others you’re bound to encounter those skeptical of your motives.
Sometimes it’s a healthy skepticism. NAIFA strongly encourages consumers to shop around and find an advisor with strong professional credentials and a good reputation – someone they are comfortable working with. We provide NAIFA members with the resources, knowledge, connections and ethical framework they need to build their standing within the profession and with clients and potential clients.
Other times, the skepticism may be well-meaning, but is simply misguided. The Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary rule is an example. The rule in its current form is unworkable for advisors and their clients and will place a real road block on millions of Americans getting access to quality advice from knowledgeable professionals. NAIFA’s staff and grassroots government relations efforts have focused on educating the DOL and working with Congress to ensure that the final rule does not have unintended consequences for hard working Americans planning for retirement. The rule, as currently proposed, would have a chilling effect on getting quality advice to the average American family. NAIFA believes firmly that this should not occur, and we are fighting every day on your behalf in the halls of Congress and with regulators so they understand the potentially devastating impacts of this unwise proposed regulation.
Other skeptics may be motivated by their competitive interests. Speakers at a recent National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) meeting called into question the motivation of advisors who earn commissions, opining that those who support the DOL’s proposal hold the “moral high ground” in the debate. They actually called out NAIFA by name. Of course, they failed to mention that the fee-only advisers NAPFA represents stand to benefit if the DOL’s draconian regulation limits consumer choice and hampers the ability of NAIFA members to serve their clients.
NAIFA responded quickly and decisively to this attack. NAIFA President Jules Gaudreau was quoted by Investment News as saying: “NAIFA certainly does not concede the ‘moral high ground’ in the debate over the DOL proposal. In fact, some of the most vocal proponents of the DOL proposal seem to be looking out for their own interests. They have put a lot of effort into supporting new regulations on advisers who they see as their competition.”
“NAIFA has always said there is absolutely a place for fee-only advisers,” Gaudreau added. “However, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Since I became NAIFA’s CEO, I have learned that to know our members is to know that virtually every NAIFA member has their clients’ best interests in the foremost of their minds. Your work does immeasurable good for the families and small businesses you serve. NAIFA’s advocacy programs will continue to educate regulators and legislators about the exemplary efforts you put into helping your clients. We will tell your story until they truly understand the positive impact your work does for millions of Americans. We will fight off cynical attacks on your business by competitors who stand to benefit from misguided regulations that would harm you and your clients. As always, NAIFA has your back!