The Securities and Exchange Commission plans to ask the investment industry soon to provide it with the information needed to craft an analysis of the potential impact of a uniform fiduciary standard on investors and producers. SEC chairman Mary Schapiro disclosed the agency’s plans in comments at a Feb. 24 legal seminar in Washington.
The SEC will likely propose its regulation for a uniform fiduciary standard this year. Schapiro said she still strongly believes that putting brokers under a fiduciary mandate is the direction that the SEC needs to go in, despite demands by insurance agents that the proposal be “business-model neutral.” That is, continuing to allow insurance agents to sell a limited number of proprietary products from the broker-dealer unit of insurance companies.
In similar comments, Knut Rostad, president of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, said he believes that the SEC will request such data within 30 to 45 days.
The agencies are requesting such information out of concern that any proposal changing the current standard of care in selling investment products will be challenged in court by parts of the industry that oppose such changes.
They are doing so because an SEC rule implementing a proxy access standard was thrown out by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last year because of a finding that the potential impact on capital formation and competition was not extensively weighed by the agency in the rule.
Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America, doesn’t believe the issue will be resolved this year.
“Given everything the agency has on its agenda, I think it is all but guaranteed we won’t see any final rulemaking on this issue before the election,” she said.
“There just isn’t time, and the agency is overwhelmed by other responsibilities. It’s frustrating, but I think the economic analysis is a necessary step, and we’d rather see them get that right than push to get a rule out that ends up being overturned in court,” she said.