Imitation is supposed to be the highest form of flattery.
This is not the case when your supposed “financial advisor” decides to imitate you!
It is an established fact that financial salespeople selling high-fee variable annuities do not act in their clients best interests.
They often walk on the wrong side of morality in order to close a sale and receive a large upfront commission.
What Betty Lai Johnson of Transamerica Financial Advisors did was shocking, even in an industry with a very low bar for ethical behavior.
Ms. Johnson decided it was a good idea (for Ms. Johnson) if her client liquidated her 401(k) and used the proceeds to purchase a variable annuity sold by her firm. This is usually an awful mistake because of the lack of liquidity and high fees attached to this product.
The client’s 401(k) was held at another broker-dealer. This means that the client had approve this transaction personally. The client completed the appropriate paperwork but then decided to change her mind.
This is when Ms. Johnson decided to go Meryl Streep on her ass!
Ms. Johnson decided she was going to collect that big fat commission check no matter; come hell or high water. She took matters into her own greedy hands. Ms. Johnson grabbed the phone and called the broker-dealer where the client’s 401(k) assets were held.
She posed as her client and authorized the liquidation of the accounts so the funds could be transferred to the high-fee variable annuity. This was completely against her client’s wishes.
Besides qualifying herself for the Wells Fargo identity-theft award, Ms. Johnson’s actions typified everything that is wrong with the sales model for financial services.
If the monetary incentives are high enough, salespeople will do and say just about anything to close the deal. Worse, they will justify these actions by the amount they bring home in their tarnished paychecks.
I would hope those who oppose the proposed fiduciary rule will take a good look at this incident.
Ms. Johnson is not the only one out there behaving in this manner. Not implementing the fiduciary rule will only encourage more incidents like this. What else would be the outcome if the Federal Government condones the fact that advisors do not have to look out for their clients’ best interests?
Ms. Johnson was terminated from her position. Was that enough punishment for the severity of this crime? Why isn’t she in jail?
I agree with Warren Buffet when he stated, “It has been far safer to steal large sums with a pen than small sums with a gun.”