(Dow Jones) Broker-dealers and financial advisors say they're satisfied for the most part with the overhaul bill passed by the Senate and are now gearing up to help shape the changes.
The Financial Services Institute, an advocacy organization working on behalf of independent broker-dealers and financial advisors, is pleased that the bill approved by the Senate Thursday gives the Securities and Exchange Commission six months to study a uniform standard of care for all advisors, but wants to make sure it doesn't increase costs for smaller investors, said David Bellaire, the institute's general counsel and director of government affairs, Friday.
If not done thoughtfully, such a standard "could result in increasing costs so that smaller investors find they can't get professional support and service as they try and plan for their retirement," Bellaire said. "We'll be working with the SEC and industry groups to ensure that the final standard ... will function appropriately across all client situations and all business models."
Jim Weddle, managing partner with Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, said in a statement that legislation "is a good effort toward putting important rules, regulations and guidelines in place to assure appropriate protections for the investing public and the proper functioning of the markets."
Edward Jones will provide input as the SEC completes its study of a uniform standard of care, Weddle said.
The Financial Planning Coalition said in a statement that the legislation lays the foundation for important consumer protection regarding the fiduciary standard or care and the regulation of financial planners, another area the SEC would study under the bill. The coalition is a collaboration of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
On the fiduciary issue, the coalition said it's optimistic "that the SEC study will find what we already know to be the case: Brokers should be held responsible for acting in their clients' best interest."
The bill also mandates a study by the Government Accountability Office on the need for regulation of the financial planning profession. Currently, anyone can call himself a financial planner without meeting any competency or ethical standards.
Bob Glovsky, Chair of the board of directors for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., said in a statement, "Straightforward, commonsense regulations for the financial planning profession are needed to help consumers identify qualified and ethical financial advisors. Current laws do not offer enough protection for consumers from abuse."
Bellaire of the Financial Services Institute said that "the independent broker-dealer channel is known for its commitment for financial planning," and that the institute wants to be involved in the six-month GAO study, and has already contacted the office.