Advisor Opposition to DOL Fiduciary Revamp Still Strong: Poll

Most advisors see government shutdown in January being averted

FSI CEO Dale Brown. FSI CEO Dale Brown.

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  • 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.
  • Preventing and Dealing with Client Complaints Although the SEC has not provided specific guidance on how client complaints should be handled, a firm’s policies and procedures should provide clear direction how to do so, as neglecting complaints can exacerbate a bad situation.

While advisors are split on whether the recent government shutdown had a negative impact on their clients, the majority of them believe another one will be averted come January, according to a recently released poll by the Financial Services Institute.

The FSI poll of 2,500 independent advisors also found that advisors' opposition to the Department of Labor's definition of fiduciary revamp remains strong.

The poll gauged advisors’ stance on a number of issues—the economy, taxes, succession planning as well as the DOL's pending rerelease of its rule to amend the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

While 91% of the advisors polled said they opposed the DOL’s fiduciary definition revamp, Phyllis Borzi, assistant secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration said recently that EBSA “is close” to finishing its work on the reproposed rule. A redraft will likely be out by April or May.

The poll also found that 77% of advisors believe that a short-term fix will be passed to avoid another shutdown early next year. More than half of advisors (57%) said the economy would stay flat in 2014, while 59% expect a neutral performance from the equities markets next year.

“Financial advisor opposition to the Department of Labor’s fiduciary definition proposal has also held strong over the past year,” said FSI president and CEO Dale Brown, in releasing the survey results. “The redefinition could ban the earning of a commission on IRA advice, pricing millions of middle-class investors out of the market for affordable retirement advice.”

As to succession planning, only 57% of advisors responded that they have a succession plan finalized and in place to pass along their practice once they retire.

“Financial advisors are clearly paying attention to policy and politics as Washington becomes more and more a part of their planning for their clients,” said Brown. While advisors “recognize the need for compromise and reforms in order to make our country financially sound, they also see how many of these significant changes will impact their clients’ ability to save for retirement, pay for their children’s education or care for aging parents.”

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