June 27, 2013
If you have an investment portfolio at Merrill Lynch these days, you don’t deal with a broker but with a financial advisor. Often, that individual has the letters CFA (or some other credential) after his or her name to tell you that he or she has invested time and energy in acquiring the latest knowledge about how to construct a portfolio, help a client plan for retirement and meet other financial objectives.
In truth, the big bank’s concerns over proposed reforms may, in part, be based on false assumptions. In a study published in the Journal of Financial Planning, Michael Finke and Thomas Langdon (professors at Texas Tech and Roger Williams University, respectively, and both certified financial planners) found “no statistical differences” in the ability of fiduciaries “to provide a broad range of products (or) the ability to provide tailored advice (or) the cost of compliance.” In comparing states that already have a fiduciary duty requirement in place and those that don’t, they also couldn’t find any significant difference in the percentages of clients with high net worth. That all suggests that the big banks wouldn’t suffer too much from adopting the higher standard.