“We have concerns with states being active while the SEC is moving ahead,” said Lisa Bleier, managing director and associate general counsel of federal government relations at SIFMA. “If each state comes out and works on its own fiduciary approach, that could inadvertently create conflicts and complexities for anyone operating in multiple states, including investors.”

Industry lobbyists also worry that as states make broker regulation essentially identical to advisor regulations, more broker-dealers and reps may give up their brokerage licenses and become pure RIAs. That could create a loss of members and revenues for industry associations and for their self-regulator, Finra.

Such a migration, spurred by regulation, could also create a dearth of investment professionals and firms willing to work with middle class investors, industry officials said.

“Will more and more firms say there is no point in retaining a brokerage license?” Bleier asked.

The American Council of Life Insurers is also opposing the Maryland legislation.

“We strongly urge the legislature to think twice about a bill that would do more harm than good to the Marylanders it is intended to benefit,” said Bruce Ferguson, ACLI’s senior vice president of state relations.

History has shown that, when faced with a fiduciary standard, many firms eliminate commission-based services relied upon by individual investors with small accounts, he added.

The Maryland House of Delegates is scheduled to introduce its version of the Financial Consumer Protection Act of 2019 as early as Friday.

Roper expects the legislation, if adopted, will trigger court action.

“I think [the industry's] first line of defense will be to try to overturn the state laws in court,” Roper said. “Contrary to their talking points, their real opposition is not to inconsistent standards, but to standards that actually seek to raise the bar in terms of investor protections.”

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