As a financial advisor living and serving clients in the Cass County and surrounding community, I have concerns about President Obama’s recent statements regarding my business and how I support my clients. I believe his remarks highlighted some basic misperceptions about the very critical services that I provide to the individuals and families I serve. The President has also recently expressed support for a Department of Labor (DOL) regulation that could significantly change the relationship I have with my clients and potentially make it more difficult for all Americans to save for retirement. Today, retirement investors can choose the types of investment professionals and services they want, as well as the manner in which they prefer to pay for these services. But, if the DOL moves forward with its fiduciary proposal and fails to implement it correctly, it could raise the cost of the products and services needed by 401(k) plan participants and IRA owners and restrict access to individual guidance and financial education, while also limiting the choices between fee-based and commission-based services. When it comes to managing financial challenges for our clients, we are with them every step of the way. From developing a savings plan to financing their children’s education, from planning for retirement to purchasing a home, our objective is to guide clients and help them reach their goals. Some clients start with very little, having accounts of less than $5,000. It is our mission to help them grow their savings and achieve financial independence and retirement security. As part of my commitment to my clients, I also provide them with information, explain their options, and help them make educated decisions. I believe that the DOL’s new definition of fiduciary could inadvertently reduce the access of low and middle-income individuals to investment assistance. I believe a compromise on the fiduciary issue can be found—one that adopts a best interest standard but allows advisors to continue to serve investors under a brokerage model, thereby maintaining investor choice and access to financial education. I support greater regulatory harmonization—including a harmonized fiduciary standard—so long as access to all models of financial advice is preserved. I’m proud that my clients come to me for support and entrust me with their lifelong savings, and I want to ensure than no new rule would prevent me from providing my clients with these important services.
David J. Workman, AIF®
LPL Registered Principal