Tag Archives: Compensation

Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #9

Regulation Best Interest: The Focus on Costs (Part 1)

The SEC has issued its final Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), Form CRS Regulation, RIA Interpretation and Solely Incidental Interpretation. I am discussing the SEC’s guidance in a series of articles entitled “Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors.”

The SEC’s Reg BI establishes a best interest standard of care for investment recommendations to retail customers by broker-dealers and their registered representatives. Reg BI also requires new disclosures and mitigation of advisor’s financial conflicts of interest. The SEC also issued an Interpretation of the Standard of Conduct for investment advisers, which clarified the SEC’s position on a number of issues related to the fiduciary standard and conflicts of interest. In addition, there were two other pieces of guidance: the Form CRS Regulation (which requires a simplified front-end disclosure by broker-dealers and investment advisers); and the Solely Incidental Interpretation for limited discretion and monitoring of accounts by broker-dealers.

The SEC’s release for the proposed Reg BI described “cost” as being a more important consideration than it is under the suitability standard. However, in the final Reg BI, the significance of “cost” was elevated even further. That was accomplished by moving “cost” from the release discussion to the actual regulation. In relevant part, the Reg BI Care Obligation now reads:

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The SECURE Act and Guaranteed Retirement Income in Plans

By now you have probably seen a number of articles about the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019) and its safe harbor for guaranteed retirement income in 401(k) plans. Some have favored the safe harbor, while others have criticized it. In either case, the authors appear to contemplate that participants will be buying individual annuities at retail prices.

In my opinion, those articles—on both sides of the fight—are at best misleading and in some cases just plain wrong. I am writing this article to give you my views.

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