LPL Financial, the largest independent broker-dealer, announced Monday that it supports the application of a uniform fiduciary standard for financial advisors, as recommended last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission study.
"We welcome the clarity that the January SEC Staff Report brings to the retail financial advice industry,” said Mark Casady, LPL’s chairman and CEO. “ In particular, we agree with the report's recommendation for a uniform fiduciary standard, as we believe this is right for investors, financial advisors and the industry.”
Casady said this new standard would “drive greater consistency and evenhandedness in the supervision of the broker-dealer and advisory sides of our industry.”
“This would be positive for financial advisors and their clients, the vast majority of whom are neither cognizant of, nor concerned with, different definitions for the standard of care between financial advisor business models,” he said.
Casady said an “overwhelming number” of LPL’s 12,000 advisors are registered to work on both a fee and commission basis. “We are very comfortable with the disclosure and regulatory structures for both sides of the industry,” he said. “As a dually licensed firm, we can support any business model a financial advisor may choose through our broker-dealer, corporate RIA and Hybrid RIA custody services. As such, we are confident that a uniform fiduciary standard is just a first step. We believe an important next step in promoting the best interest of consumers is the harmonization of the rules governing brokers and advisors.
"Significant work lies ahead, but we believe the study has made meaningful progress and we are committed to continuing to work with our industry peers, the SEC and Congress to reach a balanced result for advisory and brokerage practices."
“The recommendations,” the study said, “are designed to increase investor protection and decrease investor confusion in the most practicable, least burdensome way for investors, broker-dealers and investment advisers.”
Analysts said that the SEC's study really didn't take much of a stand, but did put the ball in motion for regulatory reform.