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Fiduciary duty, new rules for advisers and an explainer

Paddy Hirsch Nov 19, 2013

You see those beads of sweat on the brow of your financial adviser? She’s rushing to get you to sign on the dotted line before the SEC creates a uniform fiduciary rule for brokers and advisers.

This could be a very big deal for the personal finance industry, but when I mentioned it to Kai Ryssdal, he said, “Sorry man, you lost me at uniform fiduciary rule.”

So if you’re confused about anything involving the word fiduciary consider yourself in good company. And consider yourself in need of this here explainer video:

So why is it a big deal? Because if the rule is written right, brokers and financial advisers will have to act as a fiduciary, which means they’ll have to act in the client’s best interest. That’s your best interest, not theirs. That means they won’t be allowed to sell you some dodgy mutual fund or insurance product that pays them a fat commission.

Hats off to the Consumer Federation of America, which drafted the proposal. The SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee is expected to vote on it Friday.

Here’s the nub, according to the subcommittee: That any fiduciary duty imposed by the SEC should provide “an enforceable, principles-based obligation to act in the best interest of the customer.”

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