The Securities and Exchange Commission today released a series of six short videos the regulator hopes will provide investors with information to help them intelligently evaluate the differences between advisors and brokers before hiring a financial professional.

The video series—now available at and—is being released on the heels of the SEC’s new sales conduct regulatory package that was supposed to better protect investors from costly and often hidden conflicts of interest. The package, Regulation Best Interest, was finalized by the SEC in June, but seems to leave lingering concerns about investor safety. Critics claim that the new Reg BIrule blurs the gap between fiduciary advice  and more conflicted business models.

“Through my discussions with Main Street investors across the country, it became apparent to me that there are several key concepts involving working with a financial professional that have not been well explained,” Clayton said in a statement today.

“These videos are designed to describe, generally and in plain language, the differences between broker-dealers and investment advisers, arming investors with the information they need to ask better questions and help them make sound decisions for themselves and their families with their hard-earned money,” Clayton said.

In the agency’s new four-minute video, “Brokers and Investment Advisers—How They Get Paid,” Clayton says: “You should know brokers’ commissions vary widely. So make sure you understand how much you are paying. If you don’t need advice on which securities to buy or sell, you can use a discount broker … for a lower commission, usually only a few dollars. But in this case, you wouldn’t typically receive a personalized recommendation from a financial professional.”

In a statement announcing the video series, he says: “We encourage investors to ask direct questions of their financial professional, so that they can better understand the services they will receive and what they are paying. I encourage investors to ask my favorite question: ‘If I work with you, how much of my money is going to fees and costs, and how much is going to work for me?’”

The videos are a part of the SEC’s “Main Street Investor Engagement and Education Campaign” and follow passage of the agency’s controversial Regulation Best Interest package of rules back in June. While the rules created a new conduct standard for brokers and dually registered advisors, they failed to impose a fiduciary standard on them. A recent study found dually registered advisors are responsible for the majority of disciplinary actions, sales abuses and fraud perpetrated on investors.

Registered investment advisors, in contrast, have been held to a fiduciary standard that has required them to put their clients’ best interests first for 79 years.

Congress asked the SEC to create a harmonized conduct standard for advisors and brokers in 2010, but the SEC declined to do so in its new Reg BI rules. SEC officials and Clayton have repeatedly said they didn’t apply a fiduciary standard to the brokerage industry because they believe it would hurt its ability to do one-off, commission-based transactions for smaller investors.

During an earlier town hall in Baltimore before Reg BI was finalized, an older Johns Hopkins University employee asked Clayton why he didn’t just create one rule that made “everyone a fiduciary, since that’s what we think anyway.”

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