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Reports/White Papers

Surveys, Studies and Articles:

How to Draw a Bright Line Between RIA Fiduciaries and Product Pushing, Conflicted Competitors

Kathleen McBride, AIFA®

RIAs cannot count on the regulators to draw a bright line between RIAs’ client-focused business model and that of their product-pushing, conflicted competitors. More than ever, RIAs will have to lean into differentiating and validating their firms’ commitment to fiduciary excellence.



Beyond Diversification:  The Pervasive Problem of Excessive Fees and “Dominated Funds” in 401(k) Plans
Ian Ayres & Quinn Curtis

Abstract: “Notwithstanding ERISA’s fiduciary requirements, a significant portion of 401(k) plans establish investment menus that predictably lead investors to hold high-cost portfolios. Using data from more than 3,500 401(k) plans with more than $120 billion in assets, we provide evidence that fees and menu restrictions in an average plan lead to a cost of seventy-eight basis points in excess of index funds.”

The Inefficiencies of Existing Retirement Savings Incentives

By Christian E. Weller and Teresa Ghilarducci October 29, 2015

Abstract: “On average, Americans need to save between 10 percent and 20 percent of their salaries each year outside of Social Security to ensure a secure retirement.2 Yet nearly one-third of working-age Americans have no retirement savings or pension,3 and less than half of all private-sector workers participated in a retirement plan at work in 2013, the last year for which data are available.4″

Seeking Trustworthy Advice for Individual Investors: Financial Intermediaries Indicate Strong Support for the Fiduciary Standard.

Findings of the 2015 fi360 Fiduciary Standard Survey

The fiduciary standard under ERISA is even more rigorous than in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Yet, 74% of survey participants agree in concept with the Labor Department’s plan to propose a rule that would expand the number of advisors who are considered fiduciaries under ERISA. And 91% say the fiduciary standard should apply to advice to investors on rollovers from 401(k) accounts to IRA accounts.



Trustworthy Advice and Individual Investors: Will Regulators Act In Investors’ Best Interest?

Findings of the 2013 fi360-ThinkAdvisor Fiduciary Survey

Participants say a traditional fiduciary standard does not cost investors more, reduce product or service choice, or price some investors out of the market for advice compared to a broker operating under a less stringent suitability standard. In fact, many participants say the opposite is true.

Broker Dealers as Fiduciaries?

How the SEC’s Staff Study Could Raise the Bar for Investment Advice – Citi 2013

The financial crisis and Section 913 of the Dodd-Frank legislation forced a reexamination of the fiduciary responsibilities of advisors and brokers. In January 2011, the SEC staff Study on Investment RIAs and Broker-Dealers recommended that the market adopt a single fiduciary standard of care for personalized financial advice.

The Fiduciary Assessment of an Investment Advisor

ASPPA’s Plan Consultant – Spring 2012

Answers the key questions: What does a fiduciary assessment involve? Why is it important to investors? Can it improve performance? How does it help reputation management? What should advisors do?



Trustworthy Advice: Is the Fiduciary Standard the New Normal for Financial Advisors?

fi360, AdvisorOne and FiduciaryPath – June 2012

Findings of the 2012 fi360-AdvisorOne Fiduciary Survey of investment advisers’ and brokers’ attitudes toward and understanding of the fiduciary standard, and what it means now, or would mean as they conduct their business in the future.

The Impact of the Broker-Dealer Fiduciary Standard on Financial Advice

3/9/12 – Texas Tech University

A Study by Michael S. Finke and Thomas Patrick Langdon asks, in the relatively few states where brokers already must provide fiduciary advice, does the stricter fiduciary standard prevent investors’ access to advice that’s in their best interest?

Want to Buy a Mutual Fund?

The New York Times Op-Ed – 7/12/12

“What investors have to realize is that the nation’s securities laws still do not impose a fiduciary duty on brokers who give investment advice, which would require them to act in the best interest of their clients.”



A Fancy Financial Adviser Title Does Not Ensure High Standards

The New York Times ‎7/6/12

Financial representatives can put almost any title on their cards, but that doesn’t mean they must put client’s interests first. How investors can tell the difference between a salesperson and an investment advisor, who must put investor’s interests first.

Former Brokers Say JPMorgan Favored Selling Bank’s Own Funds Over Others

The New York Times 7/2/12

JPMorgan Chase brokers were urged “to favor JPMorgan’s own products even when competitors had better-performing or cheaper options. With one crucial offering, the bank exaggerated the returns of what it was selling in marketing materials…”

JP Morgan Private Bank’s Watered-Down Fiduciary Standard of Care

Forbes – 5/24/12

Who knew that investors entrusting their assets to JPMorgan in discretionary accounts, which are required to be fiduciary, would be subject to a standard of care that has them sign away their fiduciary rights?



The Mutual Fund Merry-Go-Round

The New York Times – 8/14/11

David Swensen, investment manager for Yale University’s endowment, discusses the importance of low costs in fund performance and calls on the SEC to hold brokers and fund managers to the fiduciary standard – as it currently does investment advisors.

Exclusive: Labor Dept looking into JPMorgan stable value fund

Reuters – 7/20/12

“The U.S. Department of Labor is looking into whether JPMorgan Chase & Co. violated its fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in connection with one of its stable value funds.”

The Good, the Bad, and the Trustworthy

Strategy + Business – Winter 2010

Discusses “why the path to trustworthiness is not a purely altruistic practice,” but rather a “choice some companies make…” and a “chance to create a sustainable strategy for growth that could beat the competition no matter how industry conditions change…”