The Fiduciary Rule with Stephen Kagawa

A new fiduciary rule could negatively impact the way financial services and advice are delivered. Stephen Kagawa breaks down what you need to know!

Apr 12, 2024 | Blogs, Podcast

About the Episode

We focused on the fiduciary rule impacting how financial services and advice are delivered, what it means and how it would apply, potential negative and unintended consequences, and what consumers and professionals can do to have their voices heard, with Stephen Kagawa, Founder and CEO of The Pacific Bridge Companies, author, and National Board Member of NAIFA.       

Listen to hear a difference-making tip on how to reach out and advocate for the financial industry!

You can learn more about Stephen at, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Did you get anything out of this episode? Do us a solid and leave a review: 

Learn more and engage at, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook

Buy George G a coffee (he loves coffee)

Have George G speak 

Financial literacy and wellness for individuals, families, and companies 

Find George G’s books here 

The Aligned Money Show is the podcast for Money Alignment Academy, copyright 2024.

George Grombacher

George Grombacher


Stephen Kagawa

Stephen Kagawa


Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Stephen to get us started give me two truths and a lie, please.

Stephen Kagawa 0:06
All right, here you go. You’re gonna shot George publish a book author and published writer of romantic song. A high school class fee of a former US president. And I’m a licensed life or who taught surfing on Waikiki Beach in the summers.

george grombacher 0:27
Oh, my goodness. These are all excellent. Oh, my goodness. The most obvious one would be that you’re a lifeguard but I’m gonna guess that you weren’t

Stephen Kagawa 0:42
that I wasn’t a lifeguard. Yes. Oh, you’re good. Actually. I was a lifeguard. Oh, I was a lifeguard. But I did not work at Waikiki Beach. It was where I wanted it to work for sure. I got a swimming pool. And toddlers and then seniors. So it was kind of a big miss. Oh.

george grombacher 1:06
All right. So you are in fact, romantic songwriter?

Stephen Kagawa 1:10
I am.

george grombacher 1:14
I absolutely believe it. I’m getting that vibe off of you very soulful, and obviously very romantic person as well. So awesome.

Stephen Kagawa 1:23
I love it. Perfect. Well,

george grombacher 1:27
I appreciate you taking the time to come back on the show. Steven, it’s always good to catch up. What is top of mind for you right now?

Stephen Kagawa 1:34
Well, yeah, thanks for having me back. I really appreciate being here and always chatting with you. And the world outside of you, for sure. In around you. You know, last time I spoke a little bit about the challenges of someone making their way into the United States and how our big financial services companies make it really difficult for people prepare, you know, ahead of ahead of time, as they make the way for life in the United States. And I find it fascinating, disappointing that financial services companies will go so far as even exclude those of us who are US citizens, who spend more time outside of our country abroad, rather than the United States. But what’s so mind for me today is what’s happening right now, again, with our lawmakers, it’s doing it again, to the people, the United States with this kind of rule that comes from a really great place. It’s coming from the Department of Labor, which is called as fiduciary rule. And it’s it’s really about forcing advisors to act as what they call fiduciaries, which is really sort of doing the right things or doing the things that are in the best interests for those who serve. So you think that’s a great, it’s a great rule. But and it is in terms of the bottom line, but in how they’re going about it and things that they’re they’re doing to get it across the line really will alienate a good 80% of those of us that are retiring, you know, to get the opportunities that a retiree really should benefit from, but that really is, you know, at the top of mind for me, so I’m in the I’m fighting with, I mean, together with others, who have like minded organizations and associations together across it in front of our lawmakers, and being at the capitol to make sure that we both the nation the state to to ensure that that gets, you know, the message gets across, and it’s really not a great rule. Not a good rule actually at all, for the bulk of the people, the United States. So that’s really top of mind from these merge.

george grombacher 3:49
Well, that sounds a good thing to be to be working on. You know what they say, Steve, in the path to hell is lined with good intentions.

Stephen Kagawa 3:57
What sure, for sure. I propose

george grombacher 4:01
that and and wild to think that our politicians, our elected officials would start with a good idea. And then the actual practice of it turns out to be not quite as good as as we intended. So sure. All right. So being a fiduciary, on paper, theoretically speaking, why wouldn’t I want my financial professional to act in my best interest legally? So we can all agree on that on principle,

Stephen Kagawa 4:26
I love that I love the way you just framed that because for sure, that’s what a fiduciary does, and it holds every advisor or anybody who has a contract to or license to go ahead and sell quote, unquote, who deliver these products to the people, you know, in a very, very, how can I say legal way? The there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s absolutely absolutely what we should do. I’m an advisor, so we should do it’s what I expected myself, but they’re within this the content So this is really directed towards how investment advisors really treat their clients and also and the strategies that come along behind that if you are a wealthy person, and I’m helping you, and you’ve got Georgie, give me your $50 million to, to, to do put a portfolio together, that’s appropriate for you that has all the things that bells and whistles you want it to deliver for you, well, I got the 50 million I can do these things and for you, but if you had, you know, $50,000 or $50 a month, you know, I could not do the same things. And so the only way to get to it is really through package, some package product and Patrick package for him. And so that’s one of the big ones for me is that, you know, for for those of us who don’t have a lot of assets, you know, we don’t have as many opportunities as already. And as we as we we and by the way, the the big deal on this thing is that these packaged products come with Commission’s that are embedded, you know, and they’re attached to the product, you get what the product says you’ll get at the end of the day. But there is a commission that’s that’s there, the Commission might be, let’s say, 5% of the dollars you put in and you’re whoa was too much. My fiduciary advisor, by the way, I am one of those two, you know, which I think makes this even more interesting is that what will don’t he charges me a percentage of the assets he’s holding for me and taking care of managing for me, and he charges me to make it easy, 1% a year? And I say well, that’s great. But imagine that if you’re 35 years old, and you got 30 years before you will plan to utilize the funds, because we’re looking at retirement specifically? Well, I don’t know if we have no growth in that asset. You know, that’s 35% If I do my math, right, 1% times 35 years or 30 years 30 30% versus a 5% up front, you know, and then nothing else that comes down the pike. So there. So even from a financial perspective, or commission perspective or income to the adviser perspective, there’s real no good, no good argument, though. But the most important that’s to me not that’s the lesser of the two. I know, it’s a big thing that’s out there to the public. But the more important part is, how do I get a product that works for you, that can do the same kinds of things that my wealthy clients take for granted. And I can scale it down for you. You know, I mean, that George is big thing to me. And it’s why I have to have, I felt both, you know, I have to have both sides of it. And as an advisor, you know, I should do the right things based upon who I’m speaking to, and the goals and aspirations of that person that’s uniquely theirs, and align it with strategies to help them get there. And sometimes it takes a package product to do it. Because, you know, and it might cost a little bit more upfront or a lot more upfront. But overall, you know, this in the scheme of things you may be cheaper, whether it’s cheaper or not, it gives you the opportunity to do the things that will help you best get to where you want to get to.

george grombacher 8:35
So part of the fiduciary rule or all of it that is being proposed or is currently in place, is saying that it commission a commissionable product. And we’ll just use this example of a packaged financial product that charges a 5% or has a 5% commission to the salesperson that violates this rule. Yeah,

Stephen Kagawa 8:58
at the end of the day, that’s pretty much it, that that we’re digging into. But there’s there’s more to it, you know, look, the fact of the matter is there’s there are regulations, you know, the insurance side of the world, the life insurance side of the world, which does a lot of these packaging products is self regulated. So there’s that, you know, and that, I guess, challenge from a from an optics preset perspective. But having said that, you know, they they, they are have the insurance commissioners, so every state looking at them, making sure that we’re abiding by it, that they’re abiding by it, I should say. And of course there are there’s already a self regulated set of rules that are that is imposed on everybody who’s contracted through those through those states and that’s what they call the best interest and and it so that it holds advise it to a higher level with a salesperson, because let’s face it, the financial services world, you, you probably have licensed practitioners that are selling packages rather than investment advisors, you know, go rate, again, for who are under these video fiduciary rules. To me, the best of both worlds, obviously, for me as an as an advisor is to have all the licenses and to be able to have the app or the opportunities for whoever it is going to try to help. And that’s how, of course were set up. But not everyone can afford to do that. Nor is everyone geared in a marketplace that needs. And so, you know, and and and we’re warrants it, you know, you might as well partner with somebody who does that, outside of your, you know, geographical area, if you’re an advisor in a community, that everyone’s you know, the average net worth is, is more modest. And you know, where the this this advice is in common these great products and, you know, strategies can be, you know, given to them, right?

george grombacher 11:09
I’ve got another quote for you. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Stephen Kagawa 11:13
For sure. For sure. And that’s I think that’s really what it is yours, you know, you go on you there’s there’s good stuff that’s going on there throwing this umbrella, this net, on top of everybody. And I just hope I just you know, it’s hard for everyone to understand what’s going on out there. But these kinds of rules are the kinds of rules that I think our lawmakers need to understand that you know, when you take or what when you try to do something perfectly to your point, right, you may miss the mark. And, and in this case, you’re going to alienate a good part of not one of the advisors which of course, the advisors are yelling for insurance salespeople, especially with the packaged product sales people, whether it be insurance or otherwise, are crying up, but at the end of the day, it really has its place. And, and can’t while you can put a little bit more restriction to an oversight. Certainly, I think there’s already enough that’s, that’s gone through the machinations and the filtering. And we’re really in a good place, I have a better place. And we have been overall without this unnecessary will to take things away from the

george grombacher 12:27
people. Yeah, I appreciate that. I spent. I’m a retired New York Life agent, I spent years with a company called MassMutual. And I’m very well aware of the compliance and the Know Your Customer rules, and all of those self governing things that you’re talking about. And I also know that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these things. Even when I was early in the business, when I just had an insurance license, that gave me the opportunity to call on the people that you’re talking about working class people that don’t have a million dollars or $100,000 in assets under management for me to manage. But I could sell them a term policy for $50 a month and make, you know, several $100 in revenue. And in exchange for that I would help them put together a household budget, I would explain how college savings plans worked. And without that, they would never have had access to a financial professional because 80 to 85% of people will never interact with a financial professional. So I agree with everything you’re saying.

Stephen Kagawa 13:34
That’s great. And thank you for taking us back to your roots. And, you know, that’s really foundational, as you well know. And but it’s also enlightening, right? Because it’s a lot of I think if you’re an advisor that comes from outside of that space, you don’t know you don’t understand that space. And sometimes it goes the other way around. And, you know, and so, you know, a lot of ignorance that sort of drives our decision making. And you know, we need to fill those gaps like I was talking about are the the challenges for immigrants coming into the United States are for those of us that are looking outside the United States and have companies and assets outside the United States so difficult to find the blueprints of ways to really enjoy our globalizing world and just the reality of giving opportunity access. And I just think the United States of America, you know, I’m American, True Blue, running through my red white and blue veins and my red white and blue eyes even though I don’t look at and I gotta tell you, that it it does. You know, it’s so important and I’m super excited about talking about these kinds of things because it’s people like you George and your community, that when they we send a stand out there and vibe we can help change the world for the better and shape the world for the better. And so I really appreciate Every moment that we have when we’re together, George, yeah.

george grombacher 15:02
And I appreciate thanks for saying that. And I’ll return the compliment and say that it the industry relies on people like you who are committed and to who invest and give your time attention, energy, money, your resources, to advocate for the industry, because I don’t think I don’t attribute malice to politicians, I think that they’re trying to look out for working class everyday Americans, and I’m grateful for that. But everything we’ve been talking about doesn’t mean that that something like this makes sense, and probably doesn’t make sense over the long term. So how are you? How are you advocating? I believe you’re a member of naifa. And, Nick, you’re on the National Board of Directors? And how can other financial professionals with that they don’t need to invest as much time as you but how can they help?

Stephen Kagawa 16:05
Yeah, so So thank you for noting that yes, I am very, very, very proud member of, of NATO, for the National Association of insurance and financial advisors. on that board. I’m a new guy on the board. But and, and really, I think I was invited, because I’ve been passionate of these things. And I care about, you know, the people that I serve, that’s why I do what I do. And I’m really driven by that. And I think that’s as a financial advisor out there to that community, I’ve said, You can do all kinds of things, like, chat about it with George, and, and get out there to the public and, and talk to the people and talk to your local congressman and whatnot. And, more importantly, the people that they that you nominate and bring them in and vote them into, into the office because they need to learn, they just don’t know. They don’t know what’s what’s out there. They don’t know what the law why the law is being driven the way it is. They’re being sold it, you know, in on the halls of Congress, because they’ve got their packages and the things that they want to stand behind for their constituents. And so we really need everyone to kind of lean into this because it is about everyone. It’s not about the livelihood advisors, so much as it is for the people that benefit from it. And yeah, there’s that symbiotic relationship, right? Without one or the other, you know, you kind of miss some things. And so I really do, I really do think that that’s, that’s the whole thing, we just need to care more, because it does affect us, in very unique ways to us. So.

george grombacher 17:45
So this is all being hashed out right now. Is it? And I don’t necessarily. i Is it in committee, it’s just being talked about, and there’s still time. So

Stephen Kagawa 17:56
it’s why I brought it up today, because certainly I have a lot of other things, I’d love to talk to you about tenure in the community. But it’s it is a hot topic right now. And I never expected to get to where it’s at today. Because it went through the motions date back in 2016. And got beaten down in courts in 2018. And here we go again, and it’s the same sort of thing. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s an you know, pretty close to, to going where it needs to go to next it to start getting votes and things like that rod together, and we try to get the last pieces of this, you know, shape better be some things thrown out. Or adjusted, or the whole thing is tossed. And, and so yeah, so it’s a hot time right now to to get the voice out.

george grombacher 18:46
I appreciate that. Is there a place that people can go to to read up on it or terms to search to read up on it?

Stephen Kagawa 18:55
Yeah, so I think you can, that’s a great one to turn to, to search frogs, the DOL is a Department of Labor. And it’s really the fiduciary rule that you’re looking at. It has to do with everyone. If any of you are looking at retirement or seeking to retire. We you know, and you are you caring about that. It’s it’s probably touching, touching you in some way. And we certainly don’t want it to be a negative way. Yeah.

george grombacher 19:26
Well said. Well, Steven, I appreciate again, your advocacy and and leadership. Where can people learn more about you? And your

Stephen Kagawa 19:36
Well, that’s great. You know, you can find me my if you can spell my name, I’ll just spell it for you. Steven is a si P H. E. N Kagawa. Until until Mom, my mother I promised my mother I was always call myself Stephen as long as she’s around. Stephen Kagawa. And so LinkedIn is the mecca Gala, Instagram Our I do have a Stephen But probably the website you want to get to if you want to get to a website, and I’m sorry for the long website name, but it’s the Pacific Bridge So thanks for connecting with me, because I love to connect with you. Yeah,

george grombacher 20:17
likewise, and nothing encourage people to do that. I just have to ask. And it’s a really terrible question. But in the future when your mother is in heaven with the angels, what are you going to go by?

Stephen Kagawa 20:35
I love it. I’ll go buy anything anyone calls is really what it is. So, so

george grombacher 20:42
maybe little Steven Yeah.

Stephen Kagawa 20:47
You know, Steve burrito and a whole lot of other ones that I can’t put on your show. But, you know, but yeah, I really don’t care. I read I just, I just love to be called. And I love to be, you know, to be with people like you and, and more more importantly, to share out things that I learned to help help this be a better place. So thanks for letting me to let me take a shot at today. Yeah,

george grombacher 21:15
well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, show Steven, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas. If you are a financial professional, please do take some time to read up on the Department of Labor DOL fiduciary rule. And if you want to be proactive about it, reach out to naifa your local naifa Reach out to Steven but a little bit goes a long way place a call to your congressman Congresswoman, your senators, drop him an email, send them a letter, just let them know that hey, this is going to have negative ramifications and adverse concert or just it’s going to be bad. It’s going to be way worse than I think that you think that it is. So thanks again and sorry, but Steven Kagawa on LinkedIn and Instagram and go to the Pacific Bridge I will link all those in the notes the show. Thanks again, Steven. Thank you. And finally, a friendly reminder never gonna be anybody more interested in your financial success than you are. So act accordingly.



More Episodes

I Owe: Sacrifices and Investments

I Owe: Sacrifices and Investments

I Owe: Sacrifices and Investments Each of us owe a debt that we'll never be able to repay. And repayment is not a sacrifice, it's an investment that builds upon the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have served our Country. About the EpisodeEach of us owes a...

How to Develop Financial Confidence

How to Develop Financial Confidence

How to Develop Financial Confidence What would you do if you were more confident? George G talks about how to develop financial confidence and the difference more could make!About the EpisodeWhat would you do if you were more confident? What if you had more financial...

Money Stress is Killing Me?

Money Stress is Killing Me?

Money Stress is Killing Me? Have you ever thought, "Money stress is killing me." Turns out, it could very well be. George G breaks down why that is and what to do about it!About the EpisodeMoney stress is killing me. Is that possible? Could that be true? Turns out,...

The Power of Money with Kyle George

The Power of Money with Kyle George

The Power of Money with Kyle George The power of money is dependent on how we think and feel about it. Kyle George talks about how to get on the same page with your partner!About the EpisodeWe focused on the power of money and how it’s dependent on how we think and...

It’s the Economy, Stupid

It’s the Economy, Stupid

It's the Economy, Stupid You've heard the saying, "it's the economy, stupid." But what does that mean, and what is it referring to? George G breaks down what matters!About the EpisodeYou've heard the saying, "it's the economy, stupid." But what does that mean, and...

Shared Sacrifices and Sanctuary Cities

Shared Sacrifices and Sanctuary Cities

Shared Sacrifices and Sanctuary Cities Sanctuary cities require shared sacrifices by their citizens to fund programs. George G talks about the important questions we should be asking!About the EpisodeSanctuary cities require shared sacrifices by their citizens to fund...

The Federal Government is a Junkie

The Federal Government is a Junkie

The Federal Government is a Junkie The federal government is a junkie addicted to spending our money. George G breaks down what this means and what can be done!About the EpisodeThe federal government is a junkie addicted to spending our money. With new taxes on the...

How to Have your Tomorrow Today

How to Have your Tomorrow Today

How to Have your Tomorrow Today Can you have your tomorrow today, and find the financial certainty you desire? George G talks about removing mystery and getting what you want sooner than later!About the EpisodeCan you have your tomorrow today? How do you find more...

Should You Follow Your Dreams?

Should You Follow Your Dreams? Should you follow your dreams? Do you even know what they are? George G talks about how to move beyond platitudes and get to work!About the EpisodeShould you follow your dreams? Do you even know what they are? Does it even matter with...

Join the show.

Interested in being on the show? Tell me a little bit more about you and what you’d like to talk about!