During the third week of January, the financial advisor community found itself with some required reading-two regulatory agencies released three long-awaited studies required by the Dodd-Frank Act. The GAO authored the first, on regulating financial planners; the SEC prepared the second, on the oversight of investment advisors, specifically whether a self-regulatory organization (SRO) is warranted; and the third, also penned by the SEC, was on the appropriate standard of care for investment advisors and broker-dealers.

The third study is garnering the most attention and will have the most impact on the industry. In that study, the SEC recommended that investment advisors and broker-dealers be held to a uniform fiduciary standard of conduct. The SEC will also look to "harmonize" investment advisor and broker-dealer regulations associated with the uniform standard.

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