Everyday it seems less likely that the current SEC best interest rule, “Regulation best interest”, will make it through to implementation in anything near its current form. Not only has the industry complained about its governing of titles, but many say the rule’s complex grouping-but-delineation between brokers and advisors just doesn’t make sense. Now, the group of advocates that succeeded in bringing down the DOL’s fiduciary rule have officially turned their sights on the SEC rule. The group, called NAIFA, says it supports a best interest standard, but vehemently protests the restriction on the use of titles.
FINSUM: We commiserate with the SEC because we understand the logic they used to make this rule, but we do feel the current iteration is doomed.
Try not to lose your mind, but just when the industry thought the DOL’s fiduciary rule was fully dead and gone, it might be coming back. A financial advisor news site, BenefitsPro, has run a piece covering an obscure court move in North Texas on June 28th where a judge issued an order allowing anyone advising “relief” regarding the DOL rule to let the court know by July 12th. What the order means is that state attorney generals, such as from New York, California, and Oregon, could still step in to try to make a case out of the DOL rule.
FINSUM: Those states already tried to step into the Fifth Circuit Court case, but were refused. It is unclear what they will do here, but it stands to reason that they may make a go of it.
A senior wealth management expert, Scot MacKillop, has just run a piece in Wealth Management, arguing that the SEC has made a big mistake in the drafting of its new rule. The piece carefully employs various SEC statements to show that there is no sound logic for why the regulator created an entirely new two-tier structure for regulating brokers versus advisors. The piece makes clear the idea that if there is no fundamental difference between the service of brokers versus an advisor (something the SEC’s Clayton has said), then why should there be a regulatory difference. The SEC could have simply extended the rule from the Advisers Act of 1940 to also cover brokers.
FINSUM: It is true that simply extending the rules to brokers would have created the littlest amount of confusion amongst clients (one of the stated aims of the SEC). But at the same time, the nature of the relationship between brokers and advisors and their clients is different, so we understand the road the SEC took.
Trump has named his next choice for the Supreme Court—Brett Kavanaugh. Mr Kavanaugh has a long judicial history to review, and by all accounts, he looks like a very friendly pick both for Wall Street and wealth management. He has consistently sided with the interests of financial businesses in his rulings, including rulings against regulators like the SEC.
FINSUM: Obviously all the focus of the media is on Kavanaugh’s impact in a wider sense, but from a purely financial standpoint, he appears to be very anti-regulation.
The bad news just keeps on coming for the tech industry. Already this morning there is a lot of negative press about Google allowing third party developers to actually read users’ Gmail accounts, and now comes the news that the SEC has opened an investigation into Facebook for its data breaches. The SEC is looking at Facebook’s disclosures of the breach, and in particular, Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony. Facebook says it is fully complying with all the current investigations it is facing.
FINSUM: This development might be particularly troublesome for the stock because investors are most familiar with the SEC. Hard to see what might develop here.