Given the merger frenzy in the financial industry which zoomed after the signing of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley legislation of 1999 and the marriages of securities brokerages and investment banks to commercial banks, it has been increasingly challenging to distinguish how to delineate a banker from a stockbroker, or an insurance agent from a Financial Planner. Until genuine consumer-oriented regulatory reform emerges, the investing landscape seems one to approach with some degree of caution.
From our many years of experience in serving clients, we know that It can be challenging for even the most affluent and experienced investors to be able to distinguish a wholesome financial proposal from one which may present unapparent conflicts of interest. We do a substantial amount of consulting, advising clients about various types of financial pitches in areas as diverse as private investment offerings, partnerships, insurance and annuities, "advanced retirement concepts," and other proposals that may seem to sizzle.
To borrow from the lessons of seafarers, it seems apt to recall that both ships and submarines preserve their survivability in risky environments by the use of bulkheads, which limit any ruptures to physically sealed-off areas. Though some players in the financial industry seem focused on selling the client the notion of being "totally on board" with one institution or another, recent events appear to have illustrated some of the risks inherent in such an elimination of bulkheads from one's financial ship.
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