With that, I ask: Why is it that only people licensed to receive commissions recommend variable annuities? Why aren't these investment opportunities recommended by advisors who don't take commissions?
Why do people say that a middle-market financial consumer can be served only through a commission-based relationship? Why couldn't a dually registered advisor who earned $300 on a product sale simply charge a $300 fee for exactly the same time commitment and level of service?
Why do so many states and state insurance commissioners "protect the public" by prohibiting the discounting of life insurance commissions? (Is there another product on any shelf anywhere where the seller is prohibited from offering a discounted price?)
Why do most advisors in America have 70% or more of their clients' equity allocation in U.S. stocks, when U.S. stocks make up less than 30% of global stock capitalization? (And why do Australian financial planners recommend client portfolios with equity allocations of at least 70% Australian stocks, when Australian stocks make up just 2.6% of global stock capitalization?)
Why isn't it illegal to recommend an investment that carries a 20-year surrender charge? What public interest does it serve for brokerage firms to compete with their customers for returns by having brokers recommend sales and purchases out of the firm's own investment accounts?
Why aren't discount brokerage firms prohibited from implying in their advertising that customers can beat the market via hyperactive trading? Why aren't they prohibited from offering discounts and other incentives to encourage customers to make hundreds of trades a year, when every study shows that this is extremely bad for an investor's financial health?
Why do so many fee-only advisors still base their fees on a client's assets under management, just like many brokers and asset-gatherers? They could give consumers a clear alternative by charging quarterly retainer fees instead.
Why is it hard to find a female CEO of a brokerage firm or a Hispanic financial planner? And why do fewer than 30% of financial planning firms have women as owners or partners?
When a broker signs one of those up front, 300%-of-production bonus deals to stay with a firm for nine years, do they really believe that they're going to benefit from the deal more than the brokerage firm? Why?
Why are 22% of working Americans not covered by life insurance? Doesn't this suggest the life insurance industry has lost the trust of the American public?
How was it possible for European banks to have bought so much dicey sovereign debt so soon after they bought so many toxic mortgage securities? Does anybody in the banking industry monitor the quality of their investments?
When brokerage firms violate regulations and federal law flagrantly, why does the SEC routinely allow the companies to enter into settlements where they "neither admit nor deny" that they were, in fact, guilty as charged? Would the SEC allow any of us to walk away with such a cozy deal?
Is there any other criminal activity in the country where the perpetrators, when caught, are required only to give back the money and promise not to do it again? Should we adopt these SEC disciplinary procedures for bank robbers and purse snatchers? (If anybody wants the 1,212-page FINRA report listing violations, sanctions and disciplinary events at Merrill Lynch, let me know and I'll send it to you.)
Why are the CEOs of the companies we invest in allowed to create their own compensation committees and plunder company assets more boldly every year? Why doesn't the SEC, as a consumer protection organization, permit shareholders - theoretically, the owners of the companies - to veto excessive compensation arrangements?
When I buy gold for my investment portfolio, am I investing or speculating? How should it be permissible for a firm or advisor to give financial or investment advice to a customer, then turn around and bet against that advice in the firm's or advisor's own investment account?
If members of Congress receive advice on regulations from a major donor to reelection campaigns, and very different advice from people representing the best interests of consumers, whose recommendations should receive more weight? Why?