- Best Practices
- Fiduciary September
- Frankel Prize
- Campaign for Investors
The RAND 2008 study, Investor and Industry Perspectives on Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers, documented that many retail investors fail to understand how brokers and advisers differ
In 2016 and 2017, the Consumer Federation of America reported in three separate comment letters that 34 financial firms changed their products and/or product offerings to comply with the DOL Fiduciary Rule. They did so against a backdrop of industry criticism that the Rule would be harmful not only to their own business models, but to their customers and clients as well. Some of the very same firms heftily contributed to that backdrop. However, in announcing their new products and offerings, many of these same firms reversed their position on the impact on investors. Now, they believe such changes are overdue, prudent, and beneficial to customers. Why the switch? And will such product improvements survive the recent vacatur of the DOL Rule? Time will tell.
Advisor DNA found in the Advisers Act of 1940 and championed for generations is objective advice. Yet, some reject this bedrock principle.
CFPB is reviewing its “Ethical foundation for CFP certification.” This review is timely. The advice market is undergoing a basic transformation. New technologies, the DOL Rule, more demanding investors and lowering costs are change agents. Higher ethical standards are in demand. CFPB should answer the call and lead.
RIAs DNA of objective investment advice is embedded in the Advisers Act of 1940. What’s often over-looked, however, are differences among RIAs on measures in the Adviser’s Form ADV that serve as ‘fiduciary indicators’. The research identifies some of these indicators and explores some of these differences.
Questions of good advice and financial planning are timely. 2016 will initiate the DOL COI Rule era, 76 years after the Advisers Act of 1940, and 47 years since the “birth” of financial planning. And timeless. The force behind the DOL rule reflects the “shared mission” and question that attracted the financial planning founders in 1969: Can advice replace sales as the industry “driving force”?
Winning the fiduciary “Debate” in 2015 was vital… and insufficient. The future of advice depends on how Fiduciary Duties and “Best Interest” are defined by regulators and advisors. History, law, research and common sense suggest that a stringent definition is necessary.
The “Best Interest” standard is central to the regulation of advisers and brokers. It’s key to the DOL COI proposed rule and recent SEC statements and decisions. Now, a Securities Industry Financial and Markets Association (SIFMA) statement discusses conflicts of interest, disclosure and fee transparency. Despite its obvious importance, federal policy makers and regulators still have not affirmed or promulgated a view of the “Best Interest” standard as drawn from the Advisers Act and common law.
SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s recent statement that the SEC should proceed with rule-making on a uniform fiduciary standard focuses attention on what such a rule may entail. Recent SEC decisions, statements from senior staff and commissioners and statements from former SEC staff and commissioners provide bold lines of a clear picture of the SEC’s view of the duty of loyalty. These bold lines suggest traditional views that conflicts of interest are inherently harmful and should be avoided have altered. Instead they depict a new and benign view of conflicts. A view that holds that conflicts are routine and acceptable — not inherently inconsistent with providing objective advice.
Fiduciary law is complex in its nuances and structures; fiduciary principles are not so complex. Instead they reflect the wisdom of Emerson, who noted, “Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.” So it is with principles on which fiduciary best practices and an emerging advisory profession must rest. This paper notes the attributes of character, suggests relevant operating principles or premises for best practices based on these attributes, why these principles matter, and how they starkly differ from principles underlying common brokerage sales practices aggressively advocated by brokerage lobbyists. Throughout, the simplicity of these principles and their meaning to investors stand out.
The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard today announced the formation of
a Best Practices Board to craft fiduciary best practices for investment and financial advisors.
The Six Core Fiduciary Duties embody the major elements of fiduciary responsibility under the Advisers Act of 1940.
The SEC March 1 Release* assumptions about a possible uniform fiduciary standard and the duty of loyalty sharply restrict when fiduciary duties are applied. If these assumptions are adopted in rulemaking, fiduciary duties would effectively be removed for brokers and advisers giving investment advice to retail investors.
A discussion of the differences in the standards of investment advisers and brokers is essential amidst the calls for “harmonizing” the two. This paper seeks to highlight how these two standards differ in terms of the legal requirements and duties imposed on advisers and brokers.
On July 14, 2011 SIFMA submitted comments to the SEC on a proposed framework for establishing a uniform fiduciary standard of conduct for broker-dealers. SIFMA’s proposal departs from the fiduciary standard as set forth under the Advisers Act of 1940 and, if adopted, would be particularly harmful to retail investors.
Institute Research Associate – Darren Fogarty
Darren Fogarty is a Master’s student at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, where he studies Environmental Economics. He sees this as complementary to the work he does for the Institute, where his passion for sustainability takes the form of promoting and preserving the principles which uphold the capital markets.
Darren also works as a copywriter for an employee benefits advisory firm in Phoenix, Arizona, where he helps employers in distinguishing brokers from advisors in the benefits and healthcare arenas. He received a Bachelor of Arts from UNC Greensboro, where he studied Economics and Environmental Studies, and has studied at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and Aarhus Universitet in Aarhus, Denmark.