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Senate Banking Committee Leader Pushing for Uniform Fiduciary Duty

On February 14, 2013, at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, the new chairman Sen. Jon Tester pushed the SEC to focus on advancing the uniform fiduciary duty. Sen. Tester told SEC Chairman Walter that he “would encourage the commission to make this a priority because [he] think[s] there is an absolute benefit to investors.”

The SEC is currently working on a cost-benefit analysis that would help shape a rule imposing a uniform fiduciary duty for anyone providing retail investment advice. Ms. Walter said that a formal request for information from investors, experts, and market participants will be released “in the next month or two.”

Ms. Walter further commented that she “would love to move forward on this issue as soon as possible…opinions at the commission vary a great deal in terms of potential costs. My own personal view is that it’s the right thing to do, and we should proceed [and] perhaps at the same time take a hard look at the different rules that are applicable to the two different professions…investment advisors and broker-dealers…and see where they should be harmonized.”

Even if the SEC gets the regulatory-impact review under way soon, it could be months before any conclusions are drawn, and even longer before a rule is proposed