More than a year after the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered broker-dealers and wirehouses to start providing investors with a relationship summary to explain how they’re paid and what services they provide, most firms are still omitting or even muddying this critical information, according to a new study from the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard.

While broker-dealers were supposed to use the form to explain in concise, plain English the difference between brokers and independent advisors and any conflicts of interest they have, that’s simply not happening, the institute contends.

Almost none of the 29 large broker-dealers in the new study explained who they owe loyalty to (product issuers or clients) in their Form CRS—a disclosure mandated as part of the SEC’s retail investment advice rule called Regulation Best Interest.

“The disclosures we see right now are so terribly deficient,” said Knut Rostad, the institute’s president, at a virtual press conference Wednesday. “There should be no mystery whatsoever that investors don’t understand fees they’re paying, because they’re not told. There is no requirement that actual fees be disclosed.”

While all firms state, as required, that they are compensated for executing trades and selling securities, only Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo disclose that their “primary” service is executing trades and not providing investors with investment advice, the study found.

“No firms state they are not compensated for recommendations to investors. None state that their recommendations, in law, must be solely incidental to their brokerage services,” the study says.

Also missing from the disclosures is the fact that the firms are acting as agents for issuers and owe a duty of loyalty and care to these issuers, the study found.

Nearly half of investors have no idea how firms are compensated, according to a July survey from State Street Global Advisors, which found that 47% of investors believe the management costs of investments like mutual funds and ETFs are already included in the fee they pay their advisors or investment platform.

The number of investors who believe this myth about fees and expenses hits 60% among those already working with an advisor or platform and 71% among millennial investors.

“The stark reality is that continued confusion is still prevalent today regarding how the individual investor is or really is not grasping what they’re paying for, and that speaks to investment product fees, expenses and guidance,” said Brie Williams, a State Street vice president, at another press conference held by the institute earlier this week.

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