Four of the five Securities and Exchange Commissioners said Friday they are undecided whether broker-dealers should be subjected to a fiduciary standard and whether the rules for investment advisors and broker-dealers should be harmonized.

Only Democrat Luis Aguilar said he has made up his mind, but he said the fiduciary standard needs to be enacted first so the commission can determine which rules need to be harmonized.

The two Republicans SEC commissioners, Michael Piwowar and Daniel Gallagher, said the issues still need studying.

Pointing to a Rand study that showed retail investors are confused on the duties owed them by investment advisors and broker-dealers, Piwowar said research should be done on whether the confusion leads to worse outcomes for investors, and if so, how a fiduciary standard and having the same rules apply to RIAs and B-Ds would help.

In declaring herself undecided, Democratic Commissioner Kara Stein said it’s a very complicated issue. Stein commented investors need to know they are being protected when being given financial advice, but there can be various ways that could happen.

She added the SEC needs to be creative in formulating the obligations and responsibilities of investment advisors and broker-dealers.

Putting herself in the undecided camp, SEC Chairman Mary Jo White said she is deciding on whether a common fiduciary standard and rules for investment advisors and broker-dealers will be a high priority for the agency this year.

The commissioners were surveyed by Financial Advisor magazine at the Practising Law Institute’s SEC Speaks forum in Washington, D.C.