Trump Declares War Against Investors

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Protect your assets

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It certainly is no surprise that the Trump Administration has declared war on individual investors and will only make it more difficult for millions of Americans to have a financially secure retirement. For millions, there may be no retirement at all or certainly one which will have a lower quality of life than when people were working.

But to hasten this downward spiral, the Trump Administration has quietly erased any pro-individual investor guidelines and regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) web site.

Specifically, the administration has eliminated the web pages regarding the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) individual investors should to their financial planner and 401(k) advisors (at work and for their personal plans) to see if they are really working on behalf of investors or companies that sell financial products. The interests of both parties are almost opposite. 

The FAQs covered those the DOL issued to clarify the new fiduciary or conflict-of-interest rule (COIR) and included links to the original FAQs. But within the past few weeks, those important FAQs for individual investors were erased. 

Don’t be victimized by financial professionals who are double-dipping and getting paid under-the-table fees by financial product providers.

And here is why:

Those FAQs empowered individual investors. Without the FAQs, many investors would not know they were being victimized by financial professionals who were double-dipping and getting paid under-the-table fees by financial product providers of mutual funds and annuities, to name a few. 

How much do seemingly small investment fees and expenses total over your working career?

One estimate found that paying just 1% in fees could cost a millennial more than $590,000 in sacrificed returns over 40 years of saving.

How much do seemingly small costs total over your working career?

One estimate found that paying just 1% in fees could cost a millennial more than $590,000 in sacrificed returns over 40 years of saving.

So with this is mind, here are the very important questions that investors should ask to see if their financial professional is on their side or working against them.

Kudos to Fiduciary Plan Governance and Chuck Humphrey, a former attorney for the DOL and IRS, for posting this on their web site and to fiduciary standard proponent Kathleen McBride for publicizing this latest attack on investors.

Here are the questions that should be posted in every office and passed out in every workplace 401(k) meeting. 

1.      Will you acknowledge in writing that you are a fiduciary when you make investment recommendations to me? (i.e., Do you agree that you are legally required to make investment recommendations that are only in my best interest, and if not, why not?)

2.      Are you complying with the DOL’s conflict of interest rule and exemptions on fiduciary investment advice? If you use one of the exemptions, explain the conflict of interest you have that requires you to comply with the exemption?

3.      Do you have a credential or designation from an accredited program that requires training and holds its members to ethical standards? Does the organization let investors file complaints about the people they have issued adviser designations?

4.      What fees and expenses will I be charged? Will you give me a list of those fees and expenses, and explain what each fee and expense pays for? Do I pay all of these fees and expenses directly to you or are any fees and expenses taken out of my investments?

5.      Do you your firm get paid from any other sources in connection with my business with you? Do you or your firm pay anyone else because I opened an account with you or because I make investments that you recommend?

6.      Do you make more money if I buy some investments instead of others? Explain why.

7.      Are there any limitations on the investment products you recommend? If so, what are they? For example, do you sell only your firm’s products (“proprietary products”) or do you sell products from other companies?

8.      Under what circumstances will you monitor my investments and make recommendations about changing my investments?

9.      What are your reasons for recommending a rollover from my current plan or IRA? Will I have to change my investments if I move my retirement savings to an IRA or a different plan? How do the fees and expenses compare to what I am paying now? Why do you think a rollover is better than leaving my retirement savings in my current retirement plan or IRA?

10.  What is your experience with giving advice to retirement accounts?  What customer references or customer satisfaction surveys are available for my review?

These 10 questions can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over you working lifetime. Estimates have found that the financial services industry, the firms with logos of Snoopy the Dog, whales, big bucks, lighthouses and Homer Simpson look-alikes are really trying to take advantage of you at every step of the way. Conflicts-of-interest costs investors about $17 billion a year, so work to avoid becoming a victim.  Sadly, this should be difficult since the Trump administration is focused on helping the industry victimize you.

So take control over your money.

Ask the questions and find out who is working for, or against, you. You might be very surprised by their answers.

 

Questions are from the U.S. Department of Labor

 

 

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Chuck Epstein has managed marketing communications and public relations departments for major global financial institutions and participated in the launch of industry-changing financial products. He also has written by-lined articles for over 50 publications, five books and served as editor and publisher of nation’s first newsletter on the topic of using the PC for personal investing and trading. (“Investing Online, 1994-1999). He also is a marketing consultant, writer and speaker on topics related to investor protection and opportunities in the very dynamic cannabis industry. He has held senior-level marketing, PR and communications positions at the New York Futures Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Lind-Waldock, Zacks Investment Research, Russell Investments and Principal Financial. He has won national awards from the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) and his web site, www.mutualfundreform.com, was named best small blog in 2009 by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).

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