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RIA Compliance

The past two years have been some of the most momentous in the relatively short history of the RIA profession. Legislators and regulators have been gradually embracing the fiduciary standard, though whether it will fully apply to everyone calling themselves advisors remains to be seen.

The Department of Labor’s crusade to lower costs and increase transparency in retirement plans means a spate of new regulations affecting advisors and brokers in that market. Dodd-Frank Financial Reform, meanwhile, continues to unroll across the profession, with the biggest change being a shift to state oversight of RIAs with less than $100 million AUM. In this section, you’ll find continually updated RIABiz.com coverage on all these topics.


Michael Kitces: The Series 65 is like the driver’s test. Becoming an RIA and registering is the equivalent of the license.

When you actually have to register to become an RIA, how to do it and when you qualify to sign on

Kitces know the ways of the checklist-resistant but says the challenge of becoming a registered investment advisor is highly doable and can save an advisor money and time stuck in a morass

February 22, 2017 — 6:41 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Michael Kitces

Brooke's Note: What exactly is an RIA? The answer, to some extent, is: It depends. But while for many of us the definition of a registered investment advisor is intellectual or regulatory, for others it's a far more practical issue. I get a ...

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Andrew Puzder: I am honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump.

Where Puzder's exit leaves the fiduciary rule, the DOL's bastardized mission and whether the new appointee prospect is a patsy

New nominee is law professor Alexander Acosta with a more politically correct profile but a similar stance on where power should lie in a free enterprise system

February 16, 2017 — 6:44 PM UTC by By Lisa Shidler

Brooke's Note: Andrew Puzder made many people hold their noses both in the investment and hamburger-flipping arenas -- and that was just based on the sordid details of his life and his unsmiling countenance. But Puzder's views toward the least sophisticated investors and the members of ...

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Marcia Wagner: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this comes after the Dallas ruling. That was pro-rule. Now the DOL is seeing how it can walk it back.

DOL rule-killers now on defense as legal failures add up, reinforcements don't make it to Washington and the clock ticks down

Cumulative effect of Puzder and Scaramucci implosions and looming April 10 go date shifts momentum to the rule's standard bearers

February 15, 2017 — 6:32 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

What appeared at first rush to be a concerted blitzkrieg of legal, legislative and administrative assaults on the DOL fiduciary rule since the Trump Administration took power is now looking more like a scattershot display of fireworks aimed at creating a distraction in service of some ill-defined end.

Last week ...

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Scott MacKillop: The public sees us all as being members of the same club.

RIAs should ask not for whom the DOL-rule sharks swarm ... they swarm for you, too

Advisors who truly aspire to be part of a respected profession need to oppose the furious efforts to revive the commission-broker ethos from the top seat of government

February 9, 2017 — 10:39 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Scott MacKillop

Brooke's Note: California surfers can tell you. If a shark menaces, there are two things you'd best not do: freeze like a piece of inert fish food or make madly for the shore like an injured seal. You might, however, want to make ...

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Marcia Wagner: This could be her saying: we're independent.

'Forum-shopped' Texas judge, refusing to play along, torpedoes Wall Street's efforts to stay the DOL rule -- narrowing chances of an end run by Trump and stockbrokers

DOL rule's would-be killers face the quagmire of law-making; Chief Judge Barbara Lynn grilled DOL, promised that it signaled nothing, and that turned out to be true

February 9, 2017 — 2:46 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: The RIA business has been a microcosm of the more exciting things happening in the wider world. But never more than now. We have our own case of a judge acting independently. Now we can wait and see if she gets labeled:  ...

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Edmund Murphy added to a blitz of attaboy comments by financial execs after draft appeared to seek delay of DOL rule.

How Trump's backtrack on DOL rule burned his most ardent anti-rule supporters and the opening Elizabeth Warren is exploiting

Threat of losing DOL rule sparks a new public consciousness and the Massachusetts Senator gives shout-out to Betterment, XY Planning and BlackRock

February 7, 2017 — 10:46 PM UTC by Janice Kirkel

Brooke's Note: The Trump administration's flip-flop on the DOL rule on Friday was breathtaking but didn't happen for nothing. See: Trump's lightning-quick backtrack on executive order relating to DOL rule sows chaos in financial advice industryAnti-DOL rule forces are ...

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Jason Roberts: Regardless of what camp you're in, nobody won. Nobody is happy with what went on here.

Trump's lightning-quick backtrack on executive order relating to DOL rule sows chaos in financial advice industry

The new late-day directive from the president casually strikes the six-month delay on the rule leaving lawyers with mouths agape

February 3, 2017 — 11:59 PM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: As I'm working on final edits of this article, CNN drones in the background. Anderson Cooper is trying to make sense of how Trump's Muslim ban just got stopped by a lawsuit in Washington quickly acted on by a Bush-appointed judge ...

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Anthony Scaramucci: The left-leaning Department of Labor has made a decision to discriminate against a class of people who they deem to be adding no value.

Trump's DOL-rule hit man, Anthony Scaramucci, gets hoisted, reportedly, for financial conflict of interest

The hedge fund owner who compared the Labor Dept.'s attempt to bring fiduciary care to more assets to the infamous Dred Scott decision is being dinged, ostensibly, for a business combination with Chinese Communists

February 2, 2017 — 7:02 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: Last week we wrote of a plan to undo the DOL rule in a Texas court that had the mark of evil genius written all over it: DOL rule will be undone, in a cruel twist, by the Department of Labor -- essentially ...

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Scott MacKillop: The real concern is that the rule will prevent the industry from charging retirement plan clients high fees and offering them conflicted advice.

The time is now for the investment industry to shed its shameless culture or pay a steep price

Enough feeble excuses and convoluted rationalizations for delaying the DOL rule

January 19, 2017 — 7:03 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Scott MacKillop

They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast. -- The Eagles, Hotel California 

It’s a shameful sight.

For more than six years, forces within our industry fought tooth and nail to prevent enactment of the Department of ...

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Irwin Stein: Unless the advisor is in a coma, it is always an uphill battle for a client to question an advisor’s judgment.

A veteran securities lawyer takes contrarian stance that the DOL is still 'suitability' reworded, when boiling its 1,000-page 'rule' down to 16-page 'guide'

In prolix prose, the Labor Department's 'exemptions' sound like fiduciary exceptions; as poems, they sound like suitability-level loopholes

January 18, 2017 — 6:23 PM UTC by Irwin Stein

Brooke's Note: Irwin Stein penned one of our better-read articles of 2016: A veteran of securities law killed his weekend reading all 1,000 pages of the DOL rule -- and has a takeaway to share. Fortunately for us, I convinced him to kill ...

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