After 25 years as a financial journalist, I’ve received more than a few “responses” to my writing, such as the one recently posted on Investmentadvisor.com by the Financial Planning Coalition about my September Column: “The Dog That Didn’t Bark.”(http://www.investmentadvisor.com/Issues/2009/October%202009/Pages/The-Dog-That-Didnt-Bark.aspx) Yet, I still must confess to being somewhat at loss when such responses start out critically, but then to confirm the very points with which they seemed to disagree so vehemently.
The Coalition’s response is a perfect example. It starts out stating that my column: “…provides an inaccurate and misleading review of the Financial Planning Coalition’s goals for reregulation of the financial services industry. As a result, the column is a dog that’s barking up the wrong tree.”
Yet, in addition to that nice turn of phrase with the “wrong tree” line, somewhat puzzlingly, the Coalition’s response goes on to emphasize the main points of my column. The first is that while announcing it’s “support” for a “fiduciary standard” for advisors (as has FINRA and SIFMA), it has taken no further steps spell out what might be entailed in such a duty nor to oppose the securities industry’s myriad and seductively misleading attempts to affect a vastly watered down version of the fiduciary standard in pending legislation and/or regulation. Combined with it’s implied acceptance of the CFP Board’s version of fiduciary duty–which includes the same advisors wearing multiple (fiduciary and non-fiduciary) hats and product lists limited by employers–in my mind, and that of many others, the Coalition’s position is pretty hard to distinguish from FINRA and SIFMA.