The fiduciary debate has developed pretty much as Harold Evensky predicted.

Several years ago, Evensky, an industry luminary and chairman of Evensky & Katz/Foldes Financial, figured that efforts to create a uniform fiduciary standard for all advisors would get bogged down in politics, and investors would be left with the confusing system of two separate standards—fiduciary for RIAs and suitability for brokers.

So Evensky spearheaded the development of a simple, one-page fiduciary oath for use by advisors with their clients (and for use by investors to smoke out advisors operating under a sales standard). Click here to tell us what you think of the oath.

The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard, a group Evensky co-founded in 2009, promotes the oath.

Although the committee hasn’t tracked how many advisors use the oath, committee members have been active in promoting it.

The oath intentionally does not contain the word “fiduciary” or define the term. Instead, it sums up the key elements of a fiduciary duty—put the client’s best interests first, act with prudence, do not mislead clients and avoid conflicts or manage them in the client’s favor.

It’s a “mom-and-pop oath that no one could find objectionable,” Evensky says.

And it was developed with “the expectation that investors were not likely to see ultimate protection by the regulators or Congress; this puts an element of control in their hands,” Evensky adds.

“People can sign [the oath] and retain it in their files, so they have some legal backing regardless” of what regulations their advisors may be under, adds Sheryl Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network, and a member of the fiduciary standard committee.

While the Department of Labor is on track to roll out its fiduciary rule next year, the regulation will cover only IRAs and retirement plans and provide a number of exemptions for commission-based brokers.

Meanwhile, after ducking rulemaking for years, the SEC now indicates it will propose its own fiduciary rule late next year. But what the SEC may do, if anything, is unknown.

“I’m a skeptic” of SEC action, Evensky says.

The spirited fiduciary debate enveloping the industry has not helped educate consumers about the different standards of care under which financial advisors operate.

The fiduciary oath was intended to correct that, Evensky says. “People are shocked to find that’s not the standard universally,” he says.