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Redefining “Advisor” Could Mesh with DOL’s Fiduciary Rule

March 13, 2018

So-called title reform at the SEC level — the matter of codifying who can call themselves financial advisors — would complement the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, some experts tell InvestmentNews.

Title reform isn’t explicitly part of the DOL’s rule, but it would go hand-in-hand with the regulation because of the impartial conduct standards portion that went into effect last summer, Michael Koffler, a partner at Eversheds Sutherland, tells the publication.

Part of the DOL provision prohibits advisors from making misleading statements to clients, so the DOL could consider it a violation of the impartial conduct standards to use such a title without being supervised by an investment advisor, he tells InvestmentNews.

The DOL’s rule, which purports to require retirement account advisors to put clients’ interests first, went into partial effect in June, although its final implementation date won’t be until July 2019 thanks to a directive from U.S. President Donald Trump to review the rule’s effects.

Regardless of possible revisions to the DOL fiduciary rule before it takes hold in full, a move by the SEC to redefine advisor titles would still complement the DOL’s regulation, according to Jim Allen, head of capital markets for the CFA Institute.

"I don’t see that this affects in any way the DOL rule discussions. Whether DOL stays the same or changes in other ways, [title reform] still needs to be taken care of," he tells InvestmentNews.

But George Gerstein of the law firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, tells the publication title reform wouldn’t affect the DOL rule very much since the DOL regulation applies to actions taken by an advisor and whether they’re fiduciary in nature.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the InvestmentNews article cited in this story, click here.