Editor's Choice for the Week of December 7, 2009: Fiduciary, Retail, and Hearings

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from The Advisor's Professional Library
  • Scope of the Fiduciary Duty Owed by Investment Advisors A fiduciary obligation goes beyond the suitability standard typically owed by registered representatives of broker-dealer firms to clients. The relationship is built on the premise that the advisor will always do the right thing for the person or entity receiving advice.
  • 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.   

Just as President Obama convened a jobs summit last week with talk of an energy "cash for caulkers" incentive plan, many economists were surprised that the news from the Labor Department that unemployment actually declined in November, to 10% from 10.2%. Two other big pieces of news emanated from Washington last week; the full House voted to make permanent the estate tax, and SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, in perhaps her clearest signal yet to the industry, called for a fiduciary standard for "securities professionals."

This week will bring reports on consumer credit from the Federal Reserve on the 7th, international trade on the 10th, and on the 11th, reports on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan and Reuters and on that harbinger of consumer confidence, retail sales.

In Congress, there will be plenty of heat, if not light, as the Senate continues its floor debate on healthcare reform legislation starting on Monday the 7th, while in the Senate committees, there are hearings on December 8th by the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on various alternative energy and energy efficiency bills; while on the 9th, the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Subcommittee on Economic Policy will examine how to create jobs in the recession. On the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings examining mortgage fraud, securities fraud, and the financial meltdown, "focusing on prosecuting those responsible," while on the 10th, the Joint Economic Committee of Congress will also hold hearings on creating jobs.

Perhaps even bigger hearings begin December 8th in the House, where the full Financial Services Committee will meet on the "Private Sector and Government Response to the Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis," while on the 9th, the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises will hold hearings on additional reforms to the omnibus Securities Protection Act.

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