Advisors who want to market themselves now that the Securities and Exchange Commission has given brokers “best interest” standing in clients’ eyes, need to start showing the advantages of working with a fiduciary while underscoring brokers’ weaknesses.

That’s the advice a panel of experts delivered yesterday during “Differentiation for RIAs in a Reg BI World”-- a webinar that encouraged advisors to get a jump on marketing and branding now that the SEC is allowing brokers to tell clients that they provide advice that is in their “best interest”  without registering as fiduciary advisors.

The panel of fiduciary, marketing and public relations professionals all said they expect the new SEC rules to spur BDs to create new marketing, advertising and social media campaigns to blur the lines between advisors and brokers and aggressively target advisory clients.

“Brokers will be releasing an unprecedented amount of consumer education. Their tagline will be ‘our standard is best interest and it’s better than yours [advisors],’” said Knut Rostad, president of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, which hosted the webinar.

To compete in the new Reg BI world, Rostad said that advisors should:

  • Step outside their comfort zone and re-engineer language regarding their philosophy, values, and what they do for clients;
  • Discard legalese and hackneyed terms such as “best interest,” “suitability” and “putting investors first;”
  • Start showing how and why the fiduciary standard is superior by highlighting practices of honesty, transparency and how they’re compensated;
  • Speak out against brokers’ practices and conflicts of interest, particularly in the area of how they charge clients.

“Focus attention on what differentiates you. Investors are looking for all-in fee transparency and disclosure. You can do it. Brokers cannot do it. Broker-dealers know that this is a weakness that we can exploit. This should be top of mind as you consider how to address your competitive advantages in public conversations,” Rostad said.

“I believe that no consumer knowingly chooses a broker earning a commission over a fiduciary, fee-only advisor,” added Allan Slider, founder of, who predicted BDs will throw a “mind-boggling” amount of dollars into promoting their new best-interest standard.

“Brokers sell and sell hard, but as fiduciaries you must enlighten and get the message out to the public that if you work with a broker you’re being sold,” Slider said. “We don’t do enough to enlighten that brokers sell products. This has to start with you and your website.”

Slider said advisors need to state directly and clearly “that your fees and costs of service are put into writing, while BDs are difficult to understand by design. Create a clear message that helps you stand out from brokers.

“And don’t just say what you do, say what they do. Because its coming down to you and them,” Slider said. When it comes to social media “post early and often, inform and remind clients and prospects you’re a true fiduciary and that brokers will be soon be using the same language, but with little change in the way they work.”

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