It will take time for the fully detailed picture to emerge, but the SEC voted late Wednesday to propose new conflict of interest standards for how broker/dealers and financial advisers label themselves and sell products under various fee structures to retail clients.
Nearly a month after an appellate court unexpectedly quashed the DOL fiduciary rule expansion, the Securities and Exchange Commission has announced a date and time for its first formal meeting on the topic.
Amid a glut of retirement plan industry litigation and regulatory change, advisers are asking the twin questions of whether one owes a fiduciary duty to their client, and if so, what exactly those fiduciary duties entail.
Almost half of advisers who left their firm moved along with a larger team in 2017, versus 34% in 2012, according to data shared by Fidelity Clearing and Custody Solutions; advisers moving to an independent broker/dealer more often depart as a team versus other movers.
More than 60% of advisers polled by Cerulli Associates agree that client demand for “financial planning” is increasing; at the same time, broker/dealers are refining their digital planning support for advisers in order to retain top talent.
While the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated the DOL fiduciary rule expansion, one attorney warns the rule is still technically in effect, at the very least until the court issues a “mandate” opening a limited period during which the Department of Labor can choose to contest the decision; he also questions whether the circuit courts are in fact split on the matter, as some are suggesting.
Some ERISA attorneys argue the Fifth Circuit decision last week to vacate entirely the DOL’s fiduciary rule expansion makes a Supreme Court decision on the matter inevitable; others are less sure that a decisive SCOTUS decision could be forthcoming, instead expecting the SEC to take the lead; still others admit they have little idea how the regulatory picture will shake out, recommending patience and ongoing compliance.
The latest decision out of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals throws a dramatic new element of confusion into the epic regulatory saga that has been the rollout of the Department of Labor fiduciary rule.
The firm says it does not have additional information to share at this juncture beyond what has been noted in a 2017 year-end SEC filing; in that newly emerged document, Wells Fargo Advisors says it has begun an internal investigation into “whether there have been inappropriate referrals or recommendations” made by its advisors, including with respect to rollovers for 401(k) plan participants.
Looking to 2018 and beyond, traditional advisers, brokerage firms and banks are widely (and aggressively) seeking to integrate digital advice into their service offerings; the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning offers a digital advice road map to help make sense of it all.
The enforcement arm of the Massachusetts Securities Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth alleges that Scotttrade violated the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act and related regulations by leveraging sales contests that violated the expanded DOL fiduciary rule.
Offering some preliminary commentary on the SEC’s newly announced adviser 12b-1 fee conflict of interest “amnesty” program, as it’s being referred to in the trade media, Wagner Law Group attorneys warn of the inherent risks in the self-reporting of violations.
Under the new “SCSD Initiative,” the SEC’s enforcement agents will recommend “standardized, favorable settlement terms” for investment advisers that self-report that they failed to disclose conflicts of interest associated with the receipt of 12b-1 fees by the adviser or an affiliated broker/dealer; the regulator further warns that advisers who fail to take advantage of this program will be punished more severely in the future.
Since the 20% deduction of qualified business income means that a self-employed individual will be taxed at a lower rate than an employee performing substantially the same work with a broker/dealer firm, might more brokerage employees be driven to act as independent contractors?
Josh Robbins, lead strategy officer for the direct-to-sponsor plan provider America’s Best 401K, offers a closer look at the virtues and potential weaknesses of the firm’s “disruptor” model and short sales cycle.
Cerulli categorizes consolidator firms into three segments, and “The merits and drawbacks of each segment’s business model will often depend on the adviser’s motivations for affiliating with a larger partner.”