Registered investment advisors overwhelmingly support a strong,universal fiduciary rule, while commission-based securities brokersdon’t think it would do much to improve investor confidence,according to a fi360 survey.

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This year’s results, extracted from polling done last summer,found that 71 percent of participants said they believed afiduciary rule “no less stringent” than what is currently requiredof RIAs would help restore confidence in the financial industry, upfrom 59 percent who reported believing as much the previousyear.

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And 91 percent want the higher standard of care applied torollovers from 401(k) accounts, while 82 percent said fiduciarystandards applied to advisors to 401(k) plans should also beapplied to marketers of IRAs.

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Not surprisingly, support for a fiduciary rule dropsprecipitously with commission-only advisors: only 33 percent of therespondents think a new standard would result in improved investorconfidence.

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Still, overall, support for a fiduciary standard washigher.

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Fi360, a technology and support firm, said this year’s surveywas heavy on RIA participation, which may explain higher levels ofsupport for a universal fiduciary rule.

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Of the 609 participants, 85 percent were RIAs, or IRAs —independent advisors who may use broker-dealers for back-officesupport. That’s up considerably from the previous year, when only53 percent of respondents represented the independent channel ofadvisors.

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The survey was open to all brokers, investment advisers andinsurance consultants and producers.

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“The goal has been to encourage all types of financial orinvestment intermediaries to participate,” wrote Kathleen McBride,founder of Fiduciary Path, fi360’s partner in the survey, andauthor of an accompanying report.

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Overwhelmingly, the participating RIAs said they are “fee-only”firms. Accounting for all of the participants in the survey, 81percent reported receiving fee-only compensation.

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Six percent of the registered reps (non-fiduciaries) in thesurvey said they only received compensation through commissions.

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For those that do receive commissions, they can be significant:20 percent of the registered reps said their commissions generatebetween $250,000 and $500,000 a year in revenue; another 9 percentsaid commissions generate more than $500,000.

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Fee-only RIAs like their model; 99 percent said they would notchange it.

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Even non-RIAs report having a fiduciary relationship with theirclients. Nine out of 10 non-RIAs said they maintain a fiduciary relationship with 90 percent of their clients, asopposed to merely a suitability standard for the advice theygive.

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Most of the commission-only sales people — 66 percent — saidthey maintain a fiduciary relationship with their clients, eventhough they are not required to.

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All told, 91 percent of participants said they do not thinkrequiring a fiduciary standard would raise costs toinvestors.

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The survey said it includes such a question each year because“opponents of extending a fiduciary standard to brokers have madeunsubstantiated claims that it costs investors more to work with afiduciary.”

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