Let‚s Be Logical

I read with keen interest Mary Rowland‚s article (Financial Advisor, October 2007) regarding her perceived injustice of life insurance distribution. When you get past the rhetoric concerning life insurance professionals driving new Cadillacs after duping unsuspecting consumers with inappropriate coverage, you arrive at the crux of her commentary–that the value life insurance professionals provide for their clients is not commensurate with compensation.
It would be pointless to argue the depth of a life insurance agent‚s intrinsic value to consumers and insurers. Perhaps the most qualified arbiter to determine fair pricing and compensation for insurance would be the marketplace (capitalism), which Ms. Rowland casually brushes aside.  
If consumers purchased life insurance through their own volition, or if commission-less life insurance policies could be distributed through a channel of altruistic accountants and investment advisors, insurers would have eliminated agents and commissions long ago.
Ms. Rowland‚s dream of the consumer bypassing the competent professional in his pursuit of financial security is not new. Financial advisors of all stripes have weathered constant criticism and disapproval from government and journalism alike. Only when we reach the logical conclusion that consumers of financial products are best served when aided by fairly compensated, trained professionals can we move forward with more productive discussions.

Doug Bailey
Douglas H. Bailey Co.
Lawrenceville, N.J.

Important Issues
Joel Bruckenstein‚s "File Trials" article in the September issue of Financial Advisor provides a fine analysis of the risks and issues surrounding document management and retention in the financial services industry today. Joel takes measure of the legal, regulatory and security risks of document management–both paper and electronic–and concludes "advisors who downplay these issues may find themselves doing so at their own risks."
As a provider of electronic document management solutions for more than two decades, Laserfiche has built both enterprise and desktop software applications that mitigate and address these risks. We have worked with thousands of organizations to help them transform their bulky paper archives into safe, secure digital resources.
We start from the premise that the original document must be preserved in order to assure the integrity of the audit trail. Our applications offer productivity and ROI benefits, from reducing paper files, freeing up real estate, streamlining back-office procedures and meeting audit requirements. But at the end of the day, the security and integrity of our end-user‚s records is our most important consideration and it is the basis from which we build our software and our business.  
We thank Joel Bruckenstein and Financial Advisor magazine for raising these important issues.

Chris Wacker
Long Beach, Calif.

Feeling Betrayed
Oh!!! I‚m sorely hurt!!! For every edition of Financial Advisor the first thing I do is go to Nick Murray‚s column and suck in the wisdom. I‚ve read his books. I‚ve saved his columns in a loose-leaf binder. In short, I am a believer.
And then Nick jumps on the bandwagon (Financial Advisor, August 2007). There‚s an undercurrent in the financial planning community that CPAs are not up to par as financial planners. Comments like "too technical," "can‚t relate," "not people oriented," are whispered about. Nick comments that, "I‚ve personally known only one brilliantly successful personal financial advisor who came from an engineering (i.e. accounting) background." He then makes an example of two CPAs who made inquiries regarding his CD program. His comments belittled the "wonderfully wrong-headed" CPAs and, by not so subtle inference, the CPA community as a whole. As a practicing CPA, I feel betrayed by someone whose opinions I respect. I‚m also a little confused.
As Nick frequently points out, establishing trust is the bedrock of lasting client relationships. Time and again surveys have shown that CPAs are the most trusted advisors. Wouldn‚t Nick Murray and the financial planning community as a whole be better served by trying to figure out how the CPA community garners this coveted trust instead of making snide and belittling comments? I just don‚t get it.

Ken Meyer, CPA
Fresno, Calif.