Within the industry, advisors and regulators alike may argue over the fine details of how the new compliance environment will work, but it is crucial to keep the consumer -- the ultimate client and prospect -- at the center of any public debate.
The new rules may or may not be onerous and they may or may not end up creating a safer retail investment environment -- the devil will be in the details, and a lot of the details have yet to materialize.
But even now, the retail investor knows that these rules are being hashed out in his or her interest. As a result, any response needs to take his or her interest at the center of the debate.
Clients and prospects have seen far too many demonstrations of naked self-interest from the securities industry as it is. Rather than confirm preconceptions that the industry is ruled by greed, advisors can differentiate themselves by voicing their opinion on the new rules in terms of what retail investors will gain or lose.
And the one thing that will benefit everyone whose business is built on the truth is to clear up confusion in the minds of clients and prospects. Investor education is central to all of this -- California advisor Lewis Chamberlain has the the right idea here.