Nicholas Stuller, CEO of AIQ, the parent of financial website AdviceIQ,
appears today on "Money Clip," a Reuters video program, to take issue
with a book author for creating a "distorted view of the financial
advisory industry." Viewers can access the "Money Clip" segment at http://www.reuters.com/video/2013/02/27/reuters-tv-the-true-value-of-financial-advice-money videoId=241368154&videoChannel=117774.
In a vehement response to Helaine Olen's new book, Pound Foolish:
Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry, Mr. Stuller
charged, "Ms. Olen's distorted view does a disservice to the very
investors she claims to want to protect, and misrepresents the financial
advisory industry, which is not composed of bogeymen, despite her book's
claims to the contrary."
"I renew my offer to debate Ms. Olen, and help sweep away her trash talk
and mischaracterizations of financial advisors, the vast majority of
whom are decent, hardworking folks who place their clients interests
first," Mr. Stuller stated.
Among the problems that Mr. Stuller sees in the Olen analysis:
Exaggerated Problems. One is investment dinners, hosted by
brokers eager to sign up prospects for variable annuities. In reality,
Stuller points out, advisors largely avoid this tactic and get clients
by word of mouth.
The book says six million people attended the meal pitches over three
years. That means two million per year at, say, 50 attendees per
session. Assuming onlyone advisor was at these events (likely several
attended), that means 40,000 advisors were involved yearly. That figure
represents a mere 2% of total advisors, who number around two million
(including brokers, fee-only advisors, insurance agents, and bank trust
Incorrect Assertions. Repeatedly, the book contends that
financial types pledge lavish returns on investments if only John Q.
Public signs up. A typical Olen assertion: "Investing is risky and there
are no guarantees. This is not something very many people will tell
you." Especially since the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002, advisors
are wary to the point of what Stuller describes as "near-paranoia" about
explaining that a financial plan or transaction is not a guarantee.
"Ms. Olen's book contains many assertions that are either unsupported or
incorrect -- too many for comfort or credibility," said Mr. Stuller.
He is particularly troubled by her lack of understanding of advisors:
what they do, how they work, and just how rare (fortunately) the Madoffs
of the world are. An analysis done byAdviceIQ.com finds only 7% of all
advisors have a regulatory complaint -- a lower rate of incidence than
either doctors or lawyers have.
Mr. Stuller is inviting Ms. Olen to a public debate designed to set the
record straight and Reuters has offered to host the debate and webcast
it live on the Reuters Insider and Reuters.com.
"My call for a public debate with Ms. Olen is intended to make sure
individual investors have all the facts about the financial advisor
industry," said Mr. Stuller. "I firmly believe Ms. Olen concocts a
cartoonish world that omits important facts and distorts reality and the
public deserves to hear the truth and see the proof about the financial
About AIQ, Inc.:
AIQ, Inc. publishes the popular Meridian-IQ suite of Financial Advisor
directories, licensed by over 330 major fund companies, broker-dealers
and insurance companies for industry research and marketing purposes.
AIQ is led by a veteran Wall Street team who are subject matter experts
on retail financial advisors and investing. Its consumer-facing product, www.AdviceIQ.com,
combines daily personal financial journalism with listings and rankings
of pre-vetted Advisors that are certified to have passed AdviceIQ's
proprietary Regulatory Compliance Review (RCR™), the strictest industry
regulatory due diligence.
RCR™ attests to the quality of an advisor's compliance history. This due
diligence encompasses the entire disciplinary and complaint history of
all four major U.S. regulators: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
(FINRA), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), State regulators who
license Investment Advisor Representatives and State Insurance
Commissioners. Investment firms pay an annual subscription fee to have
each financial advisor undergo the RCR™ screening. Only advisors who
successfully pass the vetting process may have their profiles posted on www.adviceiq.com.
RCR™ prevents advisors with serious infractions from appearing in the
published listings and rankings. It also excludes advisors censured by
one regulator, who then move to another financial services industry and
would otherwise escape scrutiny. AdviceIQ gives investors access to
trustworthy advisors who can help them take charge of their wealth and
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