Jane Bryant Quinn

Our retirement savings system faces trouble at its most critical point. I’m speaking of that moment when trusting people seek professional advice on how to invest their personal nest eggs — money that will have to pay their bills for the rest of their lives.

Over the many years that I’ve written about saving for the future, most of the retirement system has gradually gotten better. Employee plans have upgraded their offerings and reduced their costs. Most participants now benefit from automatic enrollment. Target-date funds have improved individual asset allocation. Workers themselves are raising the amount of money they put aside.

American deserve better. Today, I’m delighted to announce the new Campaign for Investors, dedicated to helping people find objective, trustworthy financial advice.

But savers’ dreams of a comfortable future can fall apart when they leave the protected space of employee plans and confront the Wild West of unlimited investment choice. Flush with savings, they have targets on their backs. If they’re well-informed (or lucky), they’ll make their way to a careful, objective planner or investment manager who will serve them well. If not, they risk falling into the hands of salespeople whose main interest lies in the fees and commissions squeezable from client accounts.

Investor protection rules exist — including new rules for rollover retirement accounts — but they’re not enough. Savers who hold money outside retirement accounts are even more vulnerable. Money proudly and patiently accumulated is being lost to risky, high-cost investments masquerading as something safe.

American deserve better. Today, I’m delighted to announce the new Campaign for Investors, dedicated to helping people find objective, trustworthy financial advice.

This campaign believes that everyone who appears to the public to be a financial adviser should be required to behave like one. That means adopting a universal Fiduciary Standard. Fiduciaries are required to put the best interest of their customers first. No hidden fees. No secret conflicts of interest. No inflated claims for what a financial product can achieve. No fudging on what “best interest” means.

We also support programs that teach investors what fiduciaries are and how to find them. Equally, how to recognize “advisers” who are actually salespeople in disguise.

The Campaign for Investors is being launched by the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the spread of fiduciary advice. It’s supported by some of our country’s best-known and most effective “friends of investors,” including Vanguard founder John C. (Jack) Bogle, Phyllis Borzoi, assistant secretary of the Department of Labor, and the head of the Institute, Knut Rostad.

I am honored to lend my voice to this important cause, as national spokesperson for the campaign. People saving for their futures deserve fairness and honesty wherever they turn for financial help.

— Jane Bryant Quinn