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Fiduciary Will Stay on SEC Agenda ‘Until It’s Solved’

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Steve Luparello, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Trading and Markets, said Monday that the issue of whether to craft a fiduciary rule for brokers is “not so much a policy challenge as an implementation challenge,” and that while deciding whether to move forward on a fiduciary rule is on the agency’s agenda this year, “being on the agenda and getting it done are two different things.”

Luparello, who made his comments during a panel discussion at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s annual conference in Washington, noted after being asked by FINRA CEO Richard Ketchum where the agency’s debate on the “the F word” currently stands, the lack of “coalescence of thought” among the SEC commissioners on how to move forward with a rulemaking.

However, Luparello added that the “fiduciary issue will stay on the commission’s agenda until it’s solved.”

Ketchum noted that he sees the main stumbling blocks to the SEC deciding on a rule proposal being the “interpretive laws” as well as the “concern with litigation.” But Ketchum said he sees an “overwhelming cultural benefit” for firms to build a compliance culture around “what’s in the best interest of the investor.”

Said Ketchum: “For some time I’ve said that we need to get there [to adopting a fiduciary rule], but you have to describe what that means to existing business models today. There’s a good deal of debate on what the impact is.”

Dan Kosowsky, chief compliance officer of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, agreed that crafting and implementing a fiduciary rule is “a tougher challenge than just adding a fiduciary duty and saying you’re done.”

As to how the SEC is collaborating with the DOL regarding its rule to amend the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and what Ketchum called the “potential for inconsistent standards” among the agencies’ rules, Luparello said that it has been “very important to include the DOL in [the SEC’s fiduciary] conversations, and that’s what’s been happening.”

Check out FINRA ‘Aggressively’ Seeking BD Feedback on CARDS: Ketchum on ThinkAdvisor.