From the September 2009 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

September 1, 2009

Fiduciary Committee Huddles with SEC

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  • Disaster Recovery Plans and Succession Planning RIAs owe a fiduciary duty to clients to prepare for disasters and other contingencies. If an RIA does not have a disaster recovery plan, clients’ financial well-being may be jeopardized.  RIAs should also engage in succession planning, ensuring a smooth transaction if an owner or principal leaves.   
  • Anti-Fraud Provisions of the Investment Advisers Act RIAs and IARs should view themselves as fiduciaries at all times, whether they meet the legal definition or not.  Deviating from the fiduciary standard of full disclosure while courting clients may cause the advisor significant problems.

The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard, which includes WealthManagerWeb.com Editor in Chief Kate McBride, held face-to-face-meetings with two SEC Commissioners, Congressional staffers, and a Treasury Department official on July 29 to discuss the Committee's five fiduciary principles. McBride and fellow Committee members Knut Rostad, Harold Evensky, Sheryl Garrett, Tom Bradley, and others met for more than an hour each with SEC Commissioners Elisse Walter and Luis Aguilar, at the Commissioners' invitations, in SEC headquarters in Washington.

Afterward, committee members also met with staffers from the House Education and Labor Committee, and with a Treasury Department official, over the Committee's call on Congress to include an "authentic fiduciary standard" in any financial services re-regulation promulgated by the Obama Administration.

"The authentic fiduciary standard and five core fiduciary principles have generated a great deal of interest among the regulators and legislators who invited the Committee to these meetings," said McBride.

Evensky, president of the wealth management firm Evensky & Katz in Coral Gables, Florida, noted that "We felt strong interest from everyone we met. Although no specific commitments were made, our takeaway was that all participants understand and believe in the application of the five core fiduciary principles to any and all who provide (or purport to provide) investment advice."

"We saw Washington at its very best," said Rostad, who chairs the Committee. "The keen sense of how critical the fiduciary standard is to regulatory reform, and the historic opportunity to 'Do what's right for investors' was palpable in our meetings." Rostad is regulatory and compliance officer at the Falls Church, Virginia, RIA firm Rembert Pendleton Jackson.

He blogs on the fiduciary issue at Investment Advisor sister publication WealthManagerWeb.com.

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