Noted financial planning writer and commentator Bob Veres has initiated an entry on Change.org, entitled "Fix the financial regulators by imposing a fiduciary standard on all who offer financial advice." Will this be a new way to make the call for fiduciary standards better heard in Washington?
As described on their website, the focus of Change.org is "a citizen-driven project that aims to identify and create momentum around the best ideas for how the Obama Administration and 111th Congress can turn the broad call for 'change' across the country into specific policies." In classic Democratic fashion, anyone can register with the site to submit an idea, or comment and vote on the ideas of others. The top 10 rated ideas across the website will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day. Some suggest that the Obama Administration, which has publicly acknowledged and supported Change.org, is already monitoring many of the top vote and comment entries on the site.
Of course, there are many nuances and issues involved with practically implementing a wide-reaching fiduciary standard for financial advice, but the point here is not to hammer out the details. It is simply to bring visibility to the issue, so that subsequent specific policies for implementation could be created. In a world where so much change in Congress is controlled by lobbyists - and where organizations like the FPA are still outspent upwards of 100:1 - is Change.org a way to help initiate consumer-oriented, anti-status-quo changes like a fiduciary standard for all financial advice?
Ultimately, though, Veres' entry on Change.org will need more votes if it is going to really gain visibility and advance to the next round. Nonetheless, it represents an intriguing new approach to promote the idea of fiduciary financial advice. If you're interested in seeing it progress further, consider going to the website yourself and registering so that you can vote and leave a comment. You can see the Veres entry itself by clicking here.