As Fiduciary Debate Returns, Advisors Share Attitudes and Practices

AdvisorOne and fi360 field third annual advisor fiduciary survey to determine real-world advisor opinions and actions

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  • Client Commission Practices and Soft Dollars RIAs should always evaluate whether the products and services they receive from broker-dealers are appropriate. The SEC suggested that an RIA’s failure to stay within the scope of the Section 28(e) safe harbor may violate the advisor’s fiduciary duty to clients, so RIAs must evaluate their soft dollar relationships on a regular basis to ensure they are disclosed properly and that they do not negatively impact the best execution of clients’ transactions.
  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Information This information sheet contains general information about certain provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and selected rules under the Adviser’s Act.  It also provides information about the resources available from the SEC to help advisors understand and comply with these laws and rules.

The word “sequester” might be on many Americans’ minds, but for advisors, “fiduciary” is the elephant issue inside the beltway. As the SEC and the Department of Labor consider their separate rulemakings on the fiduciary issue, AdvisorOne is partnering with fi360 to gauge the attitudes and real-world practices of advisors of all kinds when it comes to the fiduciary standard. 

The 2013 Fiduciary Survey can be taken here, and all advisors, regardless of business or compensation model, are urged to make their voices heard on the fiduciary standard, whether in the area of retirement planning (the DOL) or in more general financial planning advice (the SEC). 

The survey is open now and will remain available through the end of March 2013. Respondents can maintain their anonymity in taking the survey, but the findings in aggregate will help inform the discussion on this crucial topic.

The findings of the 2013 Survey will be published on AdvisorOne and presented at fi360’s annual conference in April. 

AdvisorOne’s Melanie Waddell has kept her ear to the ground on the progress of both bodies on the fiduciary issue.

SEC Chairwoman Elisse WalterMelanie reported that acting SEC Chairwoman Elisse Walter (right) testified before the Senate Banking Committee that the commission was “giving serious consideration” to its proposed rule to put brokers under a fiduciary mandate, the study of which was mandated under the Dodd-Frank Act, Section 913. She also confirmed previous reports that the agency will move forward with a request for public input on the rule. The response to Walter’s Feb. 14 testimony from Sen. John Tester, D-Mont.: "I think this [rulemaking] should be a priority because it is a benefit to investors. You should push it."

As for Phyllis Borzi and the DOL’s redefinition of fiduciary under ERISA, in Investment Advisor’s cover story for March 2013, Borzi reiterated that the new version of the Department’s fiduciary rule will prove the Employee Benefits Security Administration has listened to industry concerns over its proposed rule. “When people see the reproposal, reasonable people with open minds will say DOL listened, that DOL addressed the legitimate issues that were raised in the long comment process,” Borzi said again. “The reproposal will be better, clearer, more targeted and more reasonably balanced.”

Since a “concept release” on the fiduciary standard could come from the SEC by early summer, while the DOL fiduciary redraft is scheduled to be released in July, now is the time for advisors’ unfiltered voices to be heard on the subject by taking the 2013 Fiduciary Survey


You can read the findings on AdvisorOne of the 2012 Fiduciary Survey, and you can take this year’s 2013 Fiduciary Survey here.

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