Regulatory changes, a humbling economy and profitability are the top business concerns over the next year of registered investment advisors, according to a survey released today by TD Ameritrade Institutional.

Regulatory changes replace business growth, which was the No. 1 RIA business concern just six months ago. The majority of RIAs surveyed expect they will need to dedicate more of their time to managing any new regulatory requirements, which they say could reduce time with clients.

Survey responses show RIA top five business concerns over the next year are:
Regulatory changes (34%)
Macroeconomic environment (31%)
Profitability (27%)
Managing risk, legal and compliance issues (18%)
Marketing (17%)

As the government sets out to reconstruct the financial system and the regulating bodies that oversee the financial industry, the majority of RIAs say they would prefer to see regulating authority stay with the Securities Exchange Commission (33%) or the states (22%) followed by an existing self-regulatory organization such as FINRA (19%).

In addition to oversight reform, regulators are considering several changes to the fiduciary standard model. RIAs are held to a fiduciary standard, which means they are required to always act in the best interest of the client. Two-thirds of RIAs surveyed would like to see the fiduciary standard applied to registered representatives, who are currently held to a suitability standard, meaning products they sell or recommend must be suitable for the investor's goals and circumstances.

But advisors disagreed on which fiduciary standard model they would support. Thirty-six percent said they'd like to see a universal fiduciary standard where the current fiduciary requirements for RIAs would also apply to brokers.

However, 29% said they'd like to see SIFMA's proposed principles adopted. Those principles call for any advisor-a financial planner, investment advisor, a securities broker-dealer or another financial services provider-to follow the same core standards of care for investors.

Another 25% said the current fiduciary standard for RIAs and the suitability standard for brokers should be maintained, and 10% responded that they did not know which fiduciary standard model they would support.

Maritz Inc. conducted the telephone survey of 503 RIAs for TD Ameritrade Institutional between May 14 and 22. RIAs who custody with TD Ameritrade Institutional, as well as other independent RIAs from across the country, were asked to participate.