Please stand aside and let somebody else handle the problem.

That’s what the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma) officials are asking of the U.S. of Department of Labor (DOL) in the debate over a fiduciary standard for financial professionals. Sifma officials, at their annual state of the industry conference on Thursday, said they want a uniform fiduciary standard governing all financial professionals. But, fearful that new DOL rules could hurt brokers who also offer advice as well as buy and sell stocks and bonds, they argue that writing the standard should be the work of another government agency.

Sifma General Counsel Ira Hammerman says his organization supports a fiduciary standard.

“We are firmly committed that where broker-dealers are doing the same service as an investment advisor, that they should be held to a fiduciary standard that puts the client’s interests first,” Hammerman said. “But at the same time the SEC needs to roll up its sleeves and adopt standards that are business-model neutral.”

Both the SEC and DOL are working on fiduciary rules. The various plans have split the securities industry. Numerous planning organizations have contended the brokers, the same as CFPs and RIAs, should have fiduciary obligations, requiring them to put the client’s interests first.

Still, that could make commission-based professional relationships in which a financial professional makes products available from firms he or she works for more difficult for brokerages. Indeed, Sifma, in one of its publications, says it “supports a uniform fiduciary standard that is business model neutral and does not inhibit a client’s ability to choose the products and services they want.”

Sifma officials have insisted that the SEC, in defining how clients’ interests can be protected without destroying a financial professional’s ability to make a living. The goal is to find a middle ground between the needs of the investment advisor and the broker-dealer. But at the time, regulators want to protect the typical retail client who is someone just wants to buy products, sometimes want advice or planning and other times wants some of both.

DOL, which is responsible for enforcing rules under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Erisa) governing qualified plans, is expected to offer a stronger standard than the SEC. Erisa imposes high standards of care and loyalty on the fiduciaries of pension plans and IRAs, the DOL says, and the law takes particular care to protect plan participants and IRA customers from the dangers posed by advisors’ conflicts of interest. Erisa fiduciaries would have to adhere to somewhat different standards of care under the securities laws and Erisa, even if the DOL and the SEC adopted precisely the same definition of “fiduciary,” the DOL says.

“The Department of Labor and the SEC are working closely together in order to ensure that their regulatory efforts are appropriately harmonized,” says DOL. “The Department of Labor will not require brokers or advisors to adhere to standards that conflict with their obligations under the securities laws.”

However, some industry observers believe that the DOL rules would hold brokers to the same standards as RIAs and certified financial planners.

That’s something that could be very difficult for many Sifma members, especially those holding or advising clients on qualified assets. Indeed, in a Sifma publication the trade group warned, “The DOL‘s fiduciary proposal would adversely affect millions of IRA holders and plan participants with assets expected to reach $7.3 trillion by 2016.”

Last fall the SEC’s Investor Advisor Committee offered a series of observations on the problems of brokers’ and advisors’ different and, at times overlapping roles, the committee said.

When the federal securities laws were enacted, it noted, Congress drew a distinction between broker-dealers, who were regulated as salespeople under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and investment advisors, who were regulated as advisers under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

“Over the last several decades, however, the roles of some broker-dealers and investment advisors have converged. While differences remain, many broker-dealers today offer advisory services, such as investment planning and retirement planning, that are similar to the services offered by investment advisors. In addition, many broker-dealers use titles such as financial advisor for their registered representatives and market themselves in ways that highlight the advisory aspect of their services,” according to the committee.

The committee also said that federal regulations have not kept pace with changes in business practice. So broker-dealers and investment advisors are subject to different legal standards when they offer advisory services.

“Those legal standards – a suitability standard for broker-dealers and a fiduciary duty for investment advisors – afford different levels of protection to the investors who rely on those services,” the committee said. “Key differences include the requirements that investment advisors, as fiduciaries, act in the best interests of their clients and appropriately manage and fully disclose conflicts of interest that could bias their recommendations.”

The SEC, said Hammerman, will continue to study the issue and find a neutral standard. “I believe it remains on the SEC’s list of standards, but understanably they have a lot of rulemaking to do under Dodd-Frank so we are not certain of their dealing with this in the early part of 2014.”

An SEC spokeswoman said that “there is no timetable” for the SEC writing the fiduciary standard.