Americans have some major trust issues as we approach November 8th. We are mired in distrust of our Presidential candidates, Congress, the media and each other! It is election week and the biggest hurdle facing both of our Presidential candidates is their inability to inspire the trust of the American voters. Poll after poll highlights this seemingly national concern and has been fodder for debate all year. In a September Wall Street Journal poll, far less than half the voters believe that either of the major party candidates are trustworthy. A recent CBS/NYT poll showed that 2/3 of likely voters view both candidates as untrustworthy. Not only that, but we don’t even trust each other. A Gallup poll, also in September, showed that only 56% of us have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that our fellow Americans will make good judgments about the issues facing our country. Wow! Not surprisingly, the same poll shows that only 32% of us have even a fair amount of trust in the media and 57% have little or no confidence or trust in those currently in office or running for office. That is an awful lot of American cynicism!
Are these political campaign season statistics and events unprecedented in history? Nope. Even the Founding Fathers were full of distrust. The framers of the Constitution created the Electoral College to decide the presidential election. Instead of allowing for “one person, one vote” presidential elections — as the democratic process would imply — the founders opted to place the responsibility in the hands of a select few who “will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite so complicated an investigation,” or so wrote Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist, No. 68 [source: League of Women Voters].
Because Electoral College voting does not necessarily reflect the vote of the American people, a president can be elected without receiving the majority vote. Looking back in history, we have had a few disputed outcomes to our Presidential elections that caused distrust on all sides. For example, in 2000, George W. Bush won the presidential election by winning in Electoral College votes even though neither Bush nor Al Gore, Jr. had a clear popular vote victory – remember the hanging chads in Florida? In 1824, Andrew Jackson charged that a corrupt deal led Congress to award the Presidency to John Quincy Adams when no candidate received enough Electoral College votes. Sometimes we don’t even trust our democratic process!
Of course, the financial services industry is under perennial scrutiny, especially this year with some of the banking industry issues we have seen. In order to restore a sense of trust, the Department of Labor rule defining fiduciary responsibility will begin taking effect in 2017. It will require that financial institutions and advisors give advice in the “best interest” of the client and that they comply with a professional and reasonable standard of conduct and compensation. See our previous blog: http://www.dwmgmt.com/fiduciary-standard-closing-in-on-reps-and-brokers. DWM welcomes these changes and believes it is the right way to do business. As members of NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, we have always adhered to these principles.
“The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the country’s leading professional association of Fee-Only financial advisors—highly trained professionals who are committed to working in the best interests of those they serve. Since 1983, Americans across the country have looked to NAPFA for access to financial professionals who meet the highest membership standards for professional competency, client-focused financial planning, and Fee-Only compensation.” http://www.napfa.org/
One thing we can trust is that, once this election is over, there will be a renewal of the iconic American optimism, no matter who wins. We certainly hope that, as Americans, we can begin to re-establish a belief in our democratic process, in our leaders, in the media, the financial services sector and in each other. At DWM, we are confident that we have earned the trust of our clients and will continue to operate with the integrity that you have come to expect. Happy Election Day-please make sure to vote!!