The Consumer Federation of America is seeking advisor horror stories from retail investors to fight industry objections to having the Department of Labor developing a fiduciary rule.
The brokerage industry "is pulling out all the stops to make sure the fiduciary rule never sees the light of day. They keep saying there is no evidence of a problem. We think there is and our case will be more compelling to the Department and law makers when we have personal stories,” Consumer Federation Director of Investor Protection Barb Roper told Financial Advisor magazine Wednesday.
The retail brokerage industry has fiercely opposed the Labor Department plan. It would require that financial advisors who give advice to clients about individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans such as 401(k)s act as fiduciaries, or in their clients' best interests. Brokers must provide suitable advice for clients, but aren't required to be fiduciaries. At least one consumer advocate believes the DOL is close to releasing a plan.
To gather the personal accounts of run-ins with financial advisors, the Consumer Federation is distributing a questionnaire through its social media sites and affiliates.
The questions, which Roper said are designed to elicit red flags, include:
• Has your financial advisor recommended retirement investments that you did not FULLY understand?
• Do you FULLY understand all of the costs that you are paying for the products that your financial adviser recommends?
• Has your financial advisor boasted that the retirement investments he or she recommends can “beat the market”?
• Has your financial advisor encouraged you to buy a variable annuity or equity-indexed annuity within an IRA?
When investors report problems through the survey, Roper said, CFA will interview them.