A study released by the Securities and Exchange Commission Saturday has recommended that a single fiduciary standard be created for brokers and investment advisers.
(Check out our follow up story, What’s Next for the Fiduciary Standard?, where we examine the possible implications of the SEC's study.)
As part of the Dodd-Frank law, the SEC was told it could hold brokers to a higher standard, forcing them to put their client interests above their own. Advisors are already held to that standard.
The much-anticipated study found that many investors are confused about the roles of brokers and advisors and are unsure of their protections when they receive advice. The study recommended the SEC create a uniform standard to simplify the client experience.
"Retail customers should not have to parse through legal distinctions to determine whether the advice they receive was provided in accordance with their expectations," the study said.
The two Republican commissioners on the panel, Kathleen Casey and Troy Paredes, balked at the findings. They issued a joint statement that said there wasn’t enough evidence from the study to authorize a total overhaul. They argued that the SEC needed to do further study and analysis to make certain these changes wouldn’t hamper investors.
Last week, the SEC issued a study that flatly told Congress it doesn’t have the resources to oversee advisors. The regulator said that lawmakers best option is to empower a self-regulatory organization such as FINRA to do the job.
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association issued a statement on Saturday applauding the SEC’s recommendations on Saturday.
“We support a uniform fiduciary standard of care for broker-dealers and investment advisers, and upon initial review we believe that the SEC has appropriately articulated a workable comprehensive approach for personalized investment advice for retail customers,” according to SIFMA. "It is especially important that the SEC recognized that any fiduciary standard should not pick business model winners and losers, and that the Commission will need to issue interpretive guidance to allow firms to operationalize this new standard," according to SIFMA.
The organization went on to say that it hopes “that as the SEC works to implement a comparable standard of care between broker-dealers and investment advisers, it likewise will provide leadership in applying comparable oversight, examination and enforcement to retail registered investment advisers. Only if a uniform fiduciary standard of care is combined with effective oversight, examination and enforcement program can investor protection truly be achieved.”
Check out UPTICK, which poses the question: While the SEC considers a new fiduciary standard, why not solve this the capitalist, interactive and quantifiable way, with a consolidated fee trail?