As the advisory industry has watched Dodd-Frank’s implementation play out over the past year, the largest association of financial planners and the industry’s top certification body are warning advisors to continue to pay close attention to the law’s progress, as the provisions that most affect them will begin taking shape during the second year of the reform law’s life.
“The issues [in Dodd-Frank] that impact [advisors] the most are still in play and yet to be determined,” says Dan Barry, managing director of government relations and public policy for the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Many of the provisions that the SEC and other regulators have been required to tackle in the first year of Dodd-Frank—signed into law on July 21, 2010—have tended to deal with “bigger structural issues like derivatives” and setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Barry says.
For advisors, the real issues are how the SEC creates a fiduciary duty for brokers, harmonization of advisor and broker rules, as well as how the SEC, and, more importantly, Congress itself moves forward on the specifics of advisor oversight—which could come in the form of a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for advisors, Barry (left) says.
Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, managing director of public policy for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board), adds that the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Capital Markets plans to hold a hearing in September on Sections 913 (fiduciary duty) and 914 (advisor oversight) of Dodd-Frank.
Barry and Mohrman-Gillis spoke with AdvisorOne Washington Bureau Chief Melanie Waddell the day before the anniversary, discussing Dodd-Frank’s progress so far, as well as their concerns as implementation of the controversial legislation moves forward.
AdvisorOne: How do you feel about Dodd-Frank’s implementation thus far?
Mohrman-Gillis: [The CFP Board] applauds the SEC for the work it has done so far under Dodd-Frank. The SEC has done a remarkable job in this past year. [SEC Chairman Mary] Schapiro has committed publicly to moving forward with establishing a rulemaking on a fiduciary duty standard of care [for brokers] right after the Dodd-Frank anniversary, and we applaud her for that. We are doing our part to encourage her to make that a priority and not let it get sidetracked or delayed.
AdvisorOne: Are you hearing that the fiduciary duty rulemaking will continue to be a priority at the SEC?
Mohrman-Gillis: We have been hearing that [a fiduciary rulemaking] will proceed forward. There has been some pushback—[the] two SEC Commissioners asking for additional study of the cost/benefit analysis [of a fiduciary rule]; we know SEC is pursuing that.
One of our concerns is that there are some general pushbacks coming from the Hill on moving forward with some of the investor protection components of Dodd-Frank. We will continue to advocate that while you can do some initial cost/benefit analysis on [the fiduciary duty] issue, we think that this issue has been around for a long time and has been studied extensively; there’s no question that consumers need the fiduciary standard of care and that the concept that you need to study it more should not be used as an excuse to delay or derail it.
Barry (left): It’s a very fluid situation. We have to keep our eye on the ball and make sure things like fiduciary move forward.
AdvisorOne: What are some other concerns you have about Dodd-Frank moving forward?
Barry: How a fiduciary [rule] gets done. A lot of the concern isn’t so much what the SEC has done yet, it’s what the agency will do—or won’t do—going forward on fiduciary, harmonization and advisor oversight. A lot of it is up in the air right now.