Over the years in this space, I’ve pleaded for independent advisors and their associations to dispense with infighting to advocate for their shared constituencies: independent advice givers writ broadly and, most important, their clients. Whether you’re talking about Dodd-Frank or the fiduciary standard or even the regulations imposed by the SEC, the states or SROs, looking past the relatively small differences between advisors to unify and advocate together over the bigger issues is the right thing to do.
In my experience, most advisors I know in the RIA and independent broker-dealer channels are ethical people who do put their clients’ interests first regardless of whether they have a legal or regulatory requirement to do so.
No, I’m not naïve. I know there are bad actors in the advisor community and different business models that profit, figuratively and literally, from client confusion over what they’re getting from and paying for professional advice. No, I’m not simplistic. I know there are honest differences of opinion over many issues. Take the Department of Labor fiduciary redefinition. I don’t know of anyone who thinks it’s a perfect rule, regardless of how it eventually turns out.
Still, I remain hopeful that compromise on small matters can produce benefits over bigger matters, a hope fed by groups like the Financial Planning Coalition and recent cooperation between the major custodians to address cybersecurity, with meetings hosted first by Bernie Clark of Schwab and second by Mark Tibergien of Pershing. “It looks like I’ll be hosting the third” such meeting in San Francisco, Clark told me during the Schwab Impact conference in Boston in mid-November.
That’s why I’m intrigued by the CFP Board’s launch of the Center for Financial Planning. As CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller explained in a Nov. 17 interview, the Center is designed to help provide a “more sustainable, diverse supply of advisors and financial planners” to the profession, while also providing “an academic home” for planners.