Monday, March 20, 2017

Living With Regulations

This week, I will be attending a business meeting in Bonita Springs, Florida. Ever notice how business meetings are almost never held in Des Moines or Grand Rapids? Anyway...it's a two day affair where the main topic will be the impending Federal regulation known as the Department of Labor's Fiduciary Rule, its cost and implementation requirements. I'm stoked...

Once I survive,(and I'm making no assumptions here) the rest of my stay will involve rest and relaxation with my beautiful wife in the Florida sunshine. I could sure use it, but my wife deserves it, a clear distinction I should make up front.

Now, if you are of a certain age and political persuasion, you may be thinking, "Great! Another fat cat soirée at some fancy resort, fully comped by some Wall Street cartel bent on screwing the little guy!!" Sorry to disappoint, but the cost of this soirée is being borne by yours truly. I bought the plane tickets, I'm paying for my hotel rooms, the tickets to the Red Sox spring training game were bought and paid for by...me. I am being fed for two days, but, I have to pay for Pam if she decides to join me. So much for my Wall Street benefactors!

However, in fairness I should probably point out that the entire purpose of the dreaded DOL's Fiducairy Rule is to correct abuses in the financial planning/investment business brought on by the fact that some of the folks who do what I do for a living...are crooks. It turns out that if you are a self serving scumbag who doesn't care about anyone but yourself, this is a good business to be in because it is relatively easy to take advantage of people who have placed their trust in you. Of course, to solve the problem of a minority of bad actors, the federal government regulatory regime has chosen a sledge hammer to drive a thumbtack into the wall. The cost of compliance is high and will force me to jettison small clients from my book, the relentless power of unintended consequences once again rearing its ugly head! But, the law is the law. So, comply I must! Unlike the pundits who are constantly extolling the virtues of the regulatory state, for me...the regulatory burden isn't theoretical. I have to write checks.

Sure, I would rather live with bad regulations than no regulations. But that doesn't mean that every or even most regulations that are mandated onto businesses are fair or just. I believe that most were well intentioned but naive, designed to solve legitimate problems but wind up creating more problems than they solve. Make no mistake though...I will comply. I don't get to pick and choose which laws I will obey. I live in a democratic republic and if this is law of the land, then I will fly to Florida on my own dime to find out exactly what I must do to follow that law.

And to make the trip worth while, I'm staying two extra days with the love of my life at a fabulous resort which I am very grateful isn't in Grand Rapids.