This article originally appeared on InvestmentNews.com by Mark Schoeff Jr.
Fiduciary advocates are pushing the Securities and Exchange Commission to overhaul a document that is intended to help investors select a financial adviser because they say it doesn’t clarify the differences between investment advisers and brokers.
The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard on Tuesday proposed a redesigned customer relationship disclosure, known as Form CRS, that provides a side-by-side comparison of advisers and brokers. It emphasizes that advisers “must meet the highest legal standard, a fiduciary standard,” while brokers “are not required to put your interests first.”
“Form CRS is a wide, generally accepted failure,” Knut Rostad, president of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, told reporters. “Fixing Form CRS should be at the top [of the SEC’s] agenda.”
In an appearance at an online congressional hearing last month, Gensler seemed to indicate he was not inclined to reopen the Reg BI package to a new round of rulemaking. Rather, he would seek to ensure brokers act in a customer’s best interests through enforcement, examinations and guidance related to Reg BI.
It’s not clear whether overhauling Form CRS would require new rulemaking.
The sharp delineation between advisers and brokers recommended by the institute would generate a firestorm in the brokerage industry should the SEC pursue a rewrite of Form CRS. Most financial firms backed Reg BI and dispute that investors receive a higher standard of care from investment advisers.
Rostad is confident the agency would hold its ground.
“You have to go back 25 years, frankly, before you can find a commission that we have reason to believe is as attuned to investor protection,” Rostad said. “Frankly, it is the three Democratic commissioners.”
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