House and Senate Negotiators Can’t Seem to Agree on Fiduciary Standard in Financial Regulatory Reform Bill

According to InvestmentNews, negotiators in the Senate and the House have reached an impasse regarding the fiduciary standard provision found in the financial regulatory reform bill. While the House wants the US Securities and Exchange Commission to impose a universal standard of care that would be applicable to anyone offering personalized investment advice to retail clients, such as investment advisers, insurance agents, and broker-dealers, to reveal conflicts of interests and act in clients’ best interests-the Senate only wants the SEC to examine the issue for a year before proceeding to rulemaking.

According to Securities Fraud Lawyer William Shepherd, “Virtually all advisory professionals have a fiduciary duty to their clients, and brokerage firms claim to be professionals. Having a ‘fiduciary duty’ means professionals cannot put their own interests ahead of their clients. All types of ‘financial advisors’ were considered fiduciaries, until some Wall Street-friendly judges said otherwise. Congress needs to pass a law restating that brokers are fiduciaries. If not, rest assured that Wall Street will use lack of clarification as proof they do not owe an affirmative duty to their own clients.”

While speaking before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on May 27, US Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin says that the White House is strongly in favor of making retail brokers subject to the toughest possible consumer protection while also having them abide by a fiduciary duty. Wolin also says that the Obama Administration wants heightened regulation of credit rating agencies, Volcker rule limits on banks’ proprietary trading activities, and effective resolution authority against failed companies.

Stockbroker Fraud Attorney Shepherd says “It is preposterous to even say that stockbrokers are not fiduciaries. The law (Investment Advisors Act of 1940) says that those who advise clients regarding securities are held to a fiduciary standard. Meanwhile, stockbrokers insist they are not just order takers – which people pay $8.00 to get online – but are instead ‘advisors,’ ‘financial consultants,’ etc. who can charge 10 to 100 times what online trades cost. Wall Street wants to make the big bucks, but not have any duties to their clients. It’s simple as that.”

Related Web Resources:
House-Senate negotiators hit impasse on fiduciary standard, InvestmentNews, June 17, 2010
Treasury’s Wolin Vows Fight for Broker Fiduciary Duty in Reform Law, Investment Advisor, May 27, 2010
Financial Regulatory Reform, New York Times, June 15, 2010
If you lost your investment because of broker misconduct, contact Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP today.

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