For this issue of Market Conduct & Suitability, Senior Market Advisor editor Daniel D. Williams spoke with Keith Singer, JD, CFP at Keith Singer Wealth Management in Boca Raton, Fla. to get his thoughts on compliance, suitability and senior protection issues. Following are the highlights.
Senior Market Advisor: What changes are you seeing in the industry (from a suitability and compliance standpoint)?
Singer: Many broker-dealers are trying to make their registered representatives sell equity index annuities through the broker dealer. In some cases, broker-dealers have created a limited list of approved products that the reps may sell.
SMA: What can you tell me about senior protection issues? How do you see that getting better?
Singer: I see insurance companies offering more attractive living benefits in both their fixed and variable products. There are also many new products with much improved liquidity features. In some ways, the perceived lack of liquidity has been a black eye on the industry. So, clearly, insurance companies are trying to respond to this concern.
SMA: What can companies do (from a compliance and education standpoint)?
Singer: I would recommend that companies have better disclosure forms that clients would be required to sign. For example: if a company offers a product with varying surrender charge durations, the disclosure form should make the client aware of that.
SMA: What can you tell us about senior designations? Are they valid? Where is the designation issue going?
Singer: I believe any designation that can be acquired with relatively minimal effort is misleading to consumers. Insurance companies have been creating lists of acceptable designations that their agents may utilize with consumers.
SMA: Is there anything you’d like to add about compliance and suitability that would educate financial advisors?
Singer: I think when insurance companies come out with new products they should make the agents take an online tutorial before the companies accept applications from them.