Starting July 1, NAPFA will launch its "Focus on Fiduciary" campaign, a consumer education program that is being supported by the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation, which was founded in June 2005. Through radio public service announcements and a Web site--focusonfiduciary.com--that will go live July 1, the fee-only planners group will attempt to educate consumers on what they should look for in a financial planner. "Fiduciary is an adjective, not a noun," stressed NAPFA National Chair Peggy Cabaniss, who said NAPFA has decided to take a clear stand on the fiduciary question, and sent a letter to the CFP Board on May 19 asking that body to take a similar stand.
A recent member-wide survey of the FPA found that its members believe that financial planners should be held to a fiduciary standard. The survey was sent to all FPA members with an e-mail address. They were asked, "The CFP Code of Ethics does not clearly mandate a fiduciary standard requiring a planner to act in a client's best interest. Would you support inclusion of a fiduciary duty under the Code of Ethics for a financial planning engagement?" 87% of the 1,800 respondents said they would support such a change.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has requested additional comment on the costs of its investment company governance requirements. The request for comment was issued in response to the opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which ruled that the SEC violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to obtain adequate cost information for the independent chairman and 75% independent directors governance requirements. The SEC also announced that Chairman Christopher Cox has asked the Commission's General Counsel to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the SEC's process for complying with the National Securities Markets Improvement Act of 1996 and other laws that require an economic analysis of rule proposals.
The NASD announced that it has fined LaSalle Street Securities, Inc. of Elmhurst, Illinois, $200,000 for failing to adequately supervise Frank Devine, a former representative of the firm who last week began serving a 13-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to federal wire and tax fraud charges for defrauding investors in a Ponzi scheme. A federal judge also ordered Devine to pay nearly $3 million in restitution to his victims.
The SEC is regularly posting podcasts at sec.gov/investor/oiea_podcasts.htm designed to educate investors about saving, investing, and retirement. As of press time, there were four podcasts available: "Welcome to Your Money," "Hot Stock Tips," "No-Load Funds," and a primer on risk vs. reward, "Wise Investing." --Ryan G. Murphy and James J. Green