Monday, April 10, 2017

Tribes, Collegiality & The Systemic Death of Professionalism - Part III "Personal" Financial Planning

                                  Tribes, Collegiality &
The Systemic Death of Professionalism - Part III
"Personal" Financial Planning

If you are kind when you should be cruel;
you’ll be cruel when you should be kind
Judaic thought

Tribe – clan, ancestral
Tribal - clannish
Profession – occupation, vocation
Professional – proficient, certified, licensed, authority, specialized

            The concept of a profession assumes:

·         An assured level of competency
·         Substitute reliance (from the client, patient to the ‘professional’ beyond that of caveat emptor ((buyer beware)) standard of the ‘trades’ and ‘businesses’). Reliance on the another's statement or ability is a, claim or promise then the person upon whom one relied is entitled to expect performance. Substitute is  a surrogate, stand in, deputy.
·         Self accepted & imposed (though rarely disposed) Ethical Obligations

Thesis: the assertion of a profession and professionalism is primarily a self absorbed trade declaration wrapped in claims of self imposed ethics masking the reality of being but a trade association for self protection of  the clan/tribe’s economic benefit even if it means sacrificing & at the expense of  assured level of competency and substitute reliance. Furthermore, systemically, professional collegiality amongst the clan/the tribe (regardless of haughty self absorbed declarations for the good of the client’) also supersedes assured level of competency and substitute reliance. And the ‘few bad apples’ defense (let alone the chunk up – of context – ‘millions satisfied and these are isolated incidents’) is  just retort, deflection, and spin to avoid responsibility

Stipulated Qualification: ‘Client Amnesia©’ is a real but not offsetting defense of the professions examined though not limited to below. Clients suffer – all too often – from client amnesia – selective & convenient loss of memory of their own responsibility looking to blame everyone but themselves for their own actions.. This client amnesia is a strain – enhanced & geometrically perfected by ‘takers’ (Leftist Collectivist Progressives and Liberals) - to play the victim – be offended – rather than accept one’s own responsibility – while seeking recourse at others’ expense

Collegiality: Personal Financial Planners,
Their Trade Associations, & Their Irregulators

Unfortunately the above story is not limited to irregulators in insurance arena. Today there is a legislative argument over what is called The Fiduciary Rule for financial planners, advisors etc. The intent is to create a higher standard of care. And what is the purpose of this higher standard of care: hopefully to prevent or minimize fraud and abuse.
Now even according to hitch hiker of virtue Consumer Federation of America’s Roper in the ‘90’s, ‘all fraud and abuse is a question of compensation.’ Twice defeated in the Colorado legislature,  I was the catalyst and co author (Colorado legislators carried the bill) of bills in the ‘90’s that would have created a deterrent (treble damages) and legal fees under existing law (Colorado Consumer Protection Act) without creating a bureaucracy (with no stay out to prevent revolving doors). The bill required an estimate of all compensation upfront (not just method) and actual amounts quarterly reported to the client. Democrat State Insecurities Commission Phil Feigin fought the bills – worked to defeat them and then represented in private practice an insurance/agent planner who, had the bill Feigin not fought to defeat been enacted and while though the schmuck would still be probably be in Canon City –  fewer clients would have been fleeced. Feigin after his Colorado State Insecurities Commissioner stint but before reentering private practice again became head of the State Securities Commissioner Association (NASSA).
Collegiality trumps incompetency.

The tax exempt (alleged) not for profit tax exempt College for Financial Planning, certified financial planner trainer, owned the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) trademark. The CFP Board, the self regulator of CFP’s, had a committee to oversee CFP Trainers. The College – a trainer – was on the committee overseeing itself and other trainers (sort of like Dracula guarding the Bloodbank).
The College incorrectly and knowingly continued to train then 40,000+ CFP’s (not including all that were not granted the mark) in wrong math methodology to determine a client’s retirement needs. And the College continued despite this being brought to it’s attention, despite Forbes’ expose ‘Bad Math, Bad Advice,’ despite the likes of world class mathematician like John Allen Paulus (I hope I have his name correctly spelled) seconding my contention. The impact of this wrong math methodology – would be to save too much, save too little – etc etc for retirement– effectively and conceivably harming clients in the multi multi millions or  billions
I was the one to start and continue the fight – no thanks to the rest of the pusillanimous lily-livered  spineless coward financial planning association officers and officials – the same one’s who pontificated the virtues of ‘the profession.’
Concurrently then, with the College controlling the CFP mark and the certification of CFP trainers, though a trainer itself, it was able to amass as a not for profit tax exempt over $120 million. How? Effectively through structural barriers to trade, the College was a monopoly constructively keeping out other institutions from offering the CFP designation. (Alleged clever tricks like sending the materials to a competing higher education institution offering the courses – after their quarter began – was not beneath The College).

NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers, the association of fee only personal financial planners which I cofounded – not only stood on the sidelines forgetting ‘assured level of competency’ relative to the College, but its President sat then on committees of the CFP Board which effectively the College controlled – a major conflict of interest. Worst, the NAPFA President wrote to the membership calling me ‘a terrorist.’
Collegiality by NAPFA as well as the CFP Board!
The upshot: I resigned from the weenie gutless yellow belly NAPFA organization. Subsequently, but without any finger pointing at then past conflicted President, NAPFA outlawed its officers and officials from concurrently sitting on another financial planning organization board. As for the College, most likely fearing an anti-trust suit for its monopolistic structural barrier to trade as a not for profit – disgorged the CFP mark and sold itself to the people of Phoenix University.
Cowardly collegiality (NAPFA) turning tail against one of its founders (who was proven to be right) was essentially a co-conspirator in attempts to cover up ‘bad math bad advice’ failing ‘assured level of competency and substitute reliance. The former President involved in trying to quash the uncovering of the College’s bad math, bad advice – to this day goes unscathed.