Recent regulatory and industry actions on fiduciary have come fast and furiously. Unfortunately, they are mostly bad news for investors. The exception: actions in the states. The takeaway: Investors are on their own to identify real fiduciary advisors, who are also on their own to stand apart from brokers. The Institute’s Best Practices and the Campaign for Investors are more important than ever. Here’s an update on these actions and what they mean.
Judge Edith Jones argues for the logic and reasonableness in demarcation. Her ruling also argues for the central importance of reforming job titles, reinforcing a clear line between brokers and advisors.
The Board has a unique opportunity to set a true fiduciary standard, and seize the moment to benefit generations to come. In the attached letter to the SEC from the Institute, we provide further steps and protocols to manage and neutralize conflicts impact. We urge the Board to apply them.
WSJ’s Investigative Report on Discount Brokers: For decades, fee-only fiduciary advisors have said that being compensated only by client fees is better. Advisors are less conflicted, offer more fee transparency and clarity, and this makes for better client advice.
Adviser and Broker Dealer Standard of Conduct: For generations, the Advisers Act of 1940 has served well as a “contract” between advisers and their clients. The Commission’s rulemaking here effectively puts this “contract” under review and renewal.
What’s ahead for 2018? There seems to be little basis to believe that the SEC will require financial advisers to act in the best interests of clients by requiring their advice (apart from any accompanying disclosure) to be unaffected by the adviser’s conflicts.