For most of the past year, the status of a uniform fiduciary standard for brokers and investment advisors might be summarized as, “Don’t hold your breath: the SEC has higher priorities.”  But an important event in the last weeks may serve as an impetus to move this long-simmering issue forward.

As we find ourselves in the thick of the football season, I see a metaphor for the long march toward a uniform fiduciary standard. Imagine your favorite team is slowly marching the ball down the field, in fits and starts. Around mid-field it faces a crucial third down play, when it calls time-out to ponder its next move. As the team re-enters the playing field, it discovers that the defense has been penalized. The first down is gained and the team remains on the march. While this gain is not due to any action by the offense, it is a fresh start. The goal line remains a long ways away, the defense remains resolute, but small progress has been made. Enthusiasm returns to the stands.

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