A senior Securities and Exchange Commission official said it is likely the agency will propose a rule imposing a uniform fiduciary mandate on the sale of investment products.
But the official, Douglas Scheldt, an associate director and chief counsel in the SEC’s Office of Investment Management, said the SEC will likely hold off on issuing one providing for overall harmonization of advisor and broker rules.
Scheldt made his comments during a panel discussion Monday at the Insured Retirement Institute’s regulatory conference in Washington.
Scheldt’s comments were consistent with recent remarks by SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro that the agency will focus in July on the fiduciary duty issue, as well as 12b-1 reform.
His comments were first carried in an article by Melanie Waddell, in AdvisorOne, the website of sister publication Investment Advisor. Schapiro’s comments were contained in an interview with Waddell in the June issue of Investment Advisor.
Reaction to disclosure of the agency’s plans within the investment sales industry was consistent with current fault lines. An official of the Consumer Federation of America voiced support for dealing with the issues on separate tracks; the president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors continued to voice concerns about a one-size-fits-all rule.
Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America, voiced support for proposing a regulation on a uniform fiduciary standard while separating the issue from harmonization. She said it is “is absolutely appropriate” for the SEC to put these proposals on separate tracks.
“The agency has been considering the fiduciary duty proposal, in one form or another, for over two decades–ever since it first rolled out its fee-based brokerage account rule,” she said. “It has received reams of comments and conducted extensive analysis of the issue.”