Huge changes – including millions of dollars in compliance costs to the brokerage industry and higher costs to investors – are in store if the Department of Labor and Securities and Exchange Commission decide to adopt a uniform fiduciary standard.

It may be weeks, if not longer, before that decision is finalized but the question has been hanging over the industry's head most of this year.

In the most straightforward of terms, broker-dealers are worried that the proposed changes to the fiduciary standard could cost them up to $8 million to set up compliance systems and about $2 million a year to maintain. That's per broker-dealer.

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