If you know me, then you know how strongly I believe that we should raise our standards – whether it’s in the area of impartiality, education, client service or professional competency. We have a huge opportunity to distinguish ourselves by raising a very low bar set by our regulators. It’s really easy to live up to low standards, and it is time that we take it upon ourselves to help the industry ascend from the depths that history has taken it.
Would investors object to higher standards? Would regulators object to higher standards? Let’s move to embrace a new and higher set standards – creating a community of excellence for those who wish to pursue the worthwhile efforts. We are in such a unique position to help investors, help ourselves and show true leadership in the industry where there is no clear current leader.
Education is one of the foundation elements to actuate a change. A good place to start is education around the safety of client assets, or custody. There are rarely conversations about this, and it serves as an important education point. Why not have conversations about control and separation? We are missing an opportunity to talk about checks and balances. We are missing a chance to educate clients around a subject that they are eager to hear about – keeping their assets safe.
But that’s just the beginning, and simply one element of attention. We can do much more, and we can be much more as a community.
Why should we continue to wait for Congress to establish regulatory requirements and mandates among wealth advisors, asset managers and third-party custodians. Our regulators have already demonstrated that they are not able to agree, and they continue to settle for mediocre standards. They may be contempt with that, but why should we? That simply does not seem “suitable” – nor does it help investors.
There are always some that will be satisfied with being so-so. But, we have a unique opportunity to do more than what is required, to build a higher expectation and establish a higher moral standard that can advance the industry. And, we can do this because we want to, not because we have to.
Sure, I always set a high bar. But, I’m not being so idealistic here that I think cancer can be cured with chicken soup, or that greed will be a thing of the past, or that honesty in the world will run rampant. What I do believe is that we hold the power to actuate change that can serve as a quantum leap in the industry. If not now, then when?