FSI President & CEO Dale Brown

With a new sheriff in town, the new Department of Labor fiduciary rule is expected to be delayed — giving the industry the chance to work on reforms that make more sense for it, according to Financial Services Institute President and CEO Dale Brown.

“Here we are a few days into the Trump administration with a sweeping agenda of change,” Brown told about 700 advisors and broker-dealer employees at the FSI OneVoice 2017 conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

“We are in the ‘new normal’ for retirement advice, and all financial professionals [should] always be acting in the client’s best interest,” Brown said. “We whole heartedly agree …, and we were advocating for the uniform fiduciary duty since well before [the] Dodd-Frank [Act].”

Trump Time

In the near term, he says, the independent broker-dealer organization “will use what we hope is a delay [in implementing the DOL rule] to push for a new uniform standard of care for all retail advisors developed by the appropriate agency, the [Securities and Exchange Commission].”

Before the inauguration, FSI made calls and held meetings “with the highest level of the Trump transition team to make sure that DOL did not get lost in the first few days of the administration,” Brown said. “We do know that the DOL fiduciary standard is not on the tips of voters’ tongues.”

Work done by the organization and its partners “seems to be on verge of bearing fruit,” he explained. “The delay is just that, so we must [also] convince the new DOL secretary and those in Congress to work on a meaningful [reform]. We will not revert to the status quo.”

Longer term, the “unexpected political changes” in Washington gives the industry group a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to push for regulatory and other changes that can help its members better compete and serve clients in the years ahead.

“Our hope is that we can sharpen regulatory [engagement] for the best possible care of investors and affordable advice … and deepen our resources,” the FSI leader says.

Its current budget is about $10 million, and the group represents about 40,000 advisors and 114 broker-dealers. “We are 13 years into this journey and stronger than ever,” he explained.

The group will move to fight elder abuse and promote financial literacy, Brown says.

— Check out CEO Cook Hopes to Cure FINRA of Its ‘Tin Ear’ on ThinkAdvisor.