Financial Planning Coalition Responds to Securities and Exchange Commission’s Package of Rule Proposals

Washington, D.C. – The Financial Planning Coalition – comprising Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) –submitted three letters addressing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s  (SEC) proposed rule “Regulation Best Interest”; the proposed IA Interpretive Guidance; and the proposed Form CRS Relationship Summary.

This package of proposals provides the SEC the long-awaited opportunity to raise the standard of conduct applicable to broker-dealers who provide personalized investment advice; reaffirm the fiduciary obligation of investment advisers; enhance investor understanding by requiring both broker-dealers and investment advisers to deliver a relationship summary document to retail investors; and reduce investor confusion by restricting the use of certain titles by broker-dealers.

Faced with growing responsibility for their own investment decisions and an increasingly complex universe of financial products and services, Americans today must depend on competent and ethical advisors to help make decisions critical to their financial security. When they seek financial advice, however, they face a marketplace in which it is virtually impossible to distinguish a salesperson from an advisor, or between those advisors who are legally obligated to provide advice in the investor’s best interest versus those who are not. The Coalition supports the goal of helping investors understand the type of financial professional they are dealing with and what they should expect from their relationship.

In the letters submitted to the SEC, the Coalition expresses its concerns regarding the package of rule proposals, and lays out its recommendations to strengthen the proposed rules, including encouraging the Commission to follow the lead of the CFP Board in revising its Standards to extend the fiduciary obligation of a CFP® professional to all Financial Advice.

The Coalition holds a longstanding interest in this issue and in numerous comment letters over the last several years has expressed its support for a fiduciary standard of care for all financial professionals who offer personalized investment advice to retail investors. A clear fiduciary standard equally applicable to all financial professionals who provide personalized investment advice, including broker-dealers, would help clarify the  investment decisions Americans face every day.