DALLAS - From fiduciary rules to state tax strategies, regulatory issues continue to be on the front burner for the industry, the CEO of Raymond James Financial’s Global Private Client Group told advisors Tuesday.

Chet Helck, who is also chairman of SIFMA, gave advisors a roundup of some of the key controversies that could affect the way they operate during a speech at Raymond James' annual national conference for professional development.

Among the top regulatory issues he said advisors should be watching:


“There’s a great deal of confusion” around attempts to redefine  and apply the standard, Helck said -- pointing, by way of example, to the SEC’s 70-page request for feedback. He castigated the Department of Labor for trying to expand its fiduciary mandate beyond 401(k)s to include IRAs. The net result would be devastating,” he argued. SIFMA is lobbying to have the Labor Department consult with the SEC for a consistent fiduciary standard across all kinds of accounts, Helck said. But the process will take a long time and “we don’t know how it will come out,” he said.


Ohio and Minnesota have both seen recent attempts to tax financial services at the state level, Helck said. Such efforts have been unsuccessful to date, but if every state decided to tax financial services, Helck said, the complexity would create a “nightmare scenario” -- particularly for advisors with clients in multiple states.


“We’ve been fighting this one for 20 years,” Helck said. The federal government has been trying to cut into independent contractors’ ability to deduct business expenses -- a move that would put increased financial pressure on Raymond James' independent advisors, he explained. Yet Helck said industry pushback had been successful so far, and that he was “fairly comfortable” that tax deductions for independent contractors would remain. “This is not our biggest worry,” he said.