Enjoy the current installment of “weekend reading for financial planners” – this week’s edition kicks off with the big news that the CFP Board has officially approved its new CFP Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, which for the first time will require CFP professionals to be a “fiduciary at all times”… albeit while leaving most CFP Professionals on their own in determining what conflicts of interest are, or are not, permissible to engage in without breaching that fiduciary obligation.
From there, we have several more articles related to advisor regulation, from the news that the National Association of Fixed Annuities (NAFA) has decided to withdraw its Appeal fighting the DoL fiduciary rule now that the 5th Circuit has already ruled against the DoL (to avoid creating a further split amongst the Appeals Courts), to a look at how fiduciary rulemaking is likely to play out in the coming year under the SEC if the DoL fiduciary rule really is vacated, the rise of a “point-in-time” fiduciary as the scope of fiduciary advice is applied to one-time advice interactions (rather than what was historically just ongoing regular interactions between the advisor and client), and a look at why just charging AUM fees alone doesn’t necessarily ensure the advisor is properly managing their conflicts of interest (especially if the firm charges different AUM fees for equities versus fixed-income allocations).
We also have a few advisor technology articles, including: the launch of the Orion “Compass” solution that provides additional compliance reports for RIAs using its performance reporting software (which may be especially helpful the next time the SEC shows up for an exam); the rise of estate planning “FinTech” solutions like EverPlans and Yourefolio as estate planning increasingly shifts from estate tax planning to actual planning around the distribution of the estate itself; and the new “Quick Start” offering from Tamarac that aims to make it easier for breakaway brokers to get up-and-running quickly on their trading and performance reporting software tools.
We wrap up with three interesting articles, all by industry commentator Bob Veres, about various trends in the advisory industry: the first explores how even as the CFP Board lifted up its Standards for the first time in 11 years to expand its fiduciary duty, it is still accommodating a wide range of sometimes-questionable commission compensation models under the auspices that certain products and solutions simply aren’t available or feasible for non-commission advisors… which may become a moot point in the coming decade as more and more firms finally launch “advisory” product solutions and technology makes it easier and easier to serve an ever-widening range of clients; the second details a painful list of the true costs of the low bar of suitability for brokers, which isn’t about the majority of brokers that still do the right thing for clients anyway (simply because it’s good business), but the extent to which bad behavior by a small subset of especially bad actors can and is condoned under the low suitability bar; and the last raises the interesting question of whether in the long run it’s a problem for us to have so many “overlapping” membership associations all serving financial planning and wealth management, whether it would be a better use of resources for them to merge and consolidate together, or if instead it’s actually better to have so many different organizations because the nature of competition helps to ensure that they collectively keep pushing to advance the financial planning profession forward (if only to out-compete the others trying to do the same thing).
Enjoy the “light” reading!