Advisers Favor Extending the Fiduciary Standard

More advisers should be bound by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary standard, a survey found. 

Advisers were asked their opinions on fiduciary relationships and the definition of the fiduciary standard, as well as their understanding of what the fiduciary standard means nowor would mean in the futureand its impact on their businesses.  

The survey, conducted for the second year, found that advisers believe that extending the fiduciary standard would not limit access to advice or products (65%); cost investors more for advice (82%) or price them out of the market altogether (71%).

Most advisers believe that extension of the fiduciary standard to brokers would help restore investor confidence. Ninety-seven percent of survey respondents said investors do not understand the difference between brokers and advisers. A majority of respondents (85%) said the gap between what investors and advisers know makes fiduciary advice much more important for ordinary investors.

A majority (70%) agree with the Department of Labor’s proposal to extend the ERISA fiduciary duty to more advisers, and 89% felt that fiduciary duty should cover advice on money being distributed from 401(k)s and IRAs. (See “PSNC 2012: The New Fiduciary.”)

“That support for the fiduciary standard is coming from registered reps and investment advisers across the spectrum of business models demonstrates that the majority of professionals understand that putting the best interests of their clients first is in their long-term best interests, as well, and has become a competitive necessity,” said Blaine Aikin, president of fi360.

Fielded in March and April, the survey by fi360 and AdvisorOne was completed by 380 advisers across a range of adviser business models and affiliations.

Key findings are available here.