Nearly a third of independent broker-dealer presidents surveyed before April 6 by Investment Advisor reported that they were taking a wait-and-see approach to the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, which was released on that date. (Look for more on BD’s approach to the DOL’s fiduciary rule in the June issue of Investment Advisor.)
Cambridge Investment Research was not one of those IBDs.
Instead, last October, Cambridge President Amy Webber brought together multiple teams from within the company to discuss what it should do to prepare for the DOL’s rule, solicited its representatives’ opinions, and in January 2016, formally launched the Fiduciary Services unit at the company, headed by Colleen Bell as first vice president of fiduciary services.
Bell, a 10-year veteran at Cambridge and a former SEC examiner, said in a late April interview that in fact, “we had the concept of what has become Fiduciary Services for over four years,” and that Cambridge needed to clearly understand which of its reps would be affected by the not-yet-finalized rule and prepare the resources that those advisors would need.
“We wanted to know what our advisors needed,” Bell said, and to do so, “we needed to think like our advisors,” to prepare the resources for advisors focusing on “retirement plans and the advisory side of the business.”
That proactive approach to business is “what attracted me to Cambridge in the beginning. Listening to advisors has always made us successful,” she said. Referring to founder and Chairman Eric Schwartz, a pioneer in the fee-based business for IBDs, Bell said, “that’s what Eric has done: listen to what advisors want, run it through compliance and see if can we make money on it. I’ve taken that approach myself.”