Best Interest Discrimination

Best Interest Discrimination

In normal circumstances, four days on a cruise ship sounds like a dream. But this wasn’t a normal cruise.

Part of professional development sometimes means continuing education, and that’s where I was – at sea, for a four-day conference, listening to talks about the financial industry and tax updates. Work is work, regardless of where you are, and I felt a need to stay connected to the office during my four days away. While signing up for internet service aboard the ship, I learned that the daily fee for basic, lowspeed internet was $15.95. I pay around $65 a month for Wi-Fi at home – that’s roughly $2.00 a day. And the coverage on board was spotty and slow at best.

Now I’m sure getting a Wi-Fi signal in the middle of the ocean is no small feat, but I have questions:

- Is paying 697% more money for less service really in my best interest?

- Who in the leisure industry is responsible for these outrageous pricing decisions?

- Why aren’t these people being held accountable?

As I thought about pricing, fairness and accountability, another question came to mind: Why does there seem to be a double standard regarding Best Interest rules directed toward the insurance industry in comparison to everyone else? Is paying $15.95 a day for internet more unreasonable than a 3% commission for lifetime income that will last 20 or more years?

The noise around Best Interest continues to increase in 2019. The SEC has an interest in providing Best Interest Standards, which seem to be the most efficient way of providing uniformity and consistency. Several states have recently begun formulating their own definitions of Best Interest Standard as well – some include a private right-of-action similar to the DOL’s version of Best Interest. But I’ve recently had to question why the financial services industry is being discriminated against and held to a certain standard when other industry standards are more lenient.

My wife and I signed a purchase agreement for a townhouse that was being built. The outer shell was already complete when we closed on the property, but we had to build out the interior. Six months after the plans were approved, we only have one pipe installed for the plumbing. Where is the accountability to a professional association for the construction industry? Why is someone allowed to charge interest and hold thousands of dollars with no benefit to the client? This would never hold up as Best Interest.

Our industry generally has the highest level of ethics of any consumer-facing enterprise. Politicians aren’t shy about voicing disgust when those ethics are violated, and yet the country turns a blind eye to abusive pricing strategies of other industries and shows a complete disregard to consumer expectations. It’s time to stop and look at all consumer interactions, not just financial transactions. Be involved with local advocacy groups. Be vocal towards your congressional representatives in the Best Interest conversation.

Winning Strategies: Be an advocate for Best Interest for everyone and every industry. Support what’s best for the consumer but every industry needs to be held accountable.

About the Author
Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at