March 31, 2013
Very simply, I advocate for the elimination of the broker exemption related to the fiduciary standard prescribed in the Investment Adviser's Act of 1940. A single fiduciary standard is a desirable goal, given the lack of knowledge and understanding of investment advice standard of care in the retail investment community. However, that single fiduciary standard must uphold the critical requirement of placing the client's interests ahead of those of the adviser. Watering down the existing fiduciary standard so as to accommodate the wirehouses and broker-dealer industry will not improve the quality of investment advice for retail investors, which should in fact be the objective of harmonizing standards of care. Alternatively, "bright line" the existing difference in standards by leaving the suitability standard in place for the broker-dealer industry but requiring that any firm/representative using the term adviser, consultant, etc., be subject to the 1940 Adviser's Act, in conjunction with other dramatic disclosure practices. Investors should not have to work so hard to understand who is subject to the fiduciary standard and who is not.