BYON 01/30/16 AT 9:37 AM | International Business Times
When Jim Hebenstreit left the television business in the early 2000s to become a financial adviser, his intentions were noble: He wanted to help ordinary people save for retirement. But pressure from management to meet quotas forced him to prioritize sales over measured advice. “I was kind of shocked,” Hebenstreit said, comparing his job to used-car sales. ‘“I thought I could be an investment adviser, and I found out I was really a salesperson.”
But the Labor Department wants to change that, upending industry norms by reducing conflicts and requiring heftier disclosures of commission-based sales. A proposed rule would require advisers of individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, to become so-called fiduciaries, mandating that clients’ best interests come first.
Working at a string of investment firms, including Fidelity and Wells Fargo, Hebenstreit felt deep conflicts between working in the client’s best interests and keeping his own job. “You’re constantly burying your feelings about being conflicted,” Hebenstreit said. “You have to make a living — and it’s not technically illegal.”
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