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Third Annual fi360-ThinkAdvisor Fiduciary Survey

August 22, 2013

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For the third consecutive year, fi360 and ThinkAdvisor (formerly AdvisorOne) have teamed up on a survey to measure the understanding, attitudes, and opinions of the fiduciary standard by advisors across the spectrum of investment business models and affiliations. This year's survey was completed by 382 advisors from both fi360's membership and ThinkAdvisor's readership. The results show that the majority of respondents believe all advice should be subject to a fiduciary standard, including applying the ERISA standard to IRA rollovers.

Among the highlights: 

Advisors largely rejected the arguments of opponents of placing investors’ interests first by extending the fiduciary standard for advice. Opponents have argued that the fiduciary standard would increase investors’ costs and limit their access to advice and products. But survey respondents said extending to fiduciary standard to brokers:

  • Would not cost investors more for advice (79%).
  • Would not price investors out of the market for advice (69%).
  • Would not limit access to advice or products (68%).

Survey participants strongly agreed that investors are unaware of the differences between the fiduciary standard governing investment advisers and the much lower “suitability” standard used by the brokers. Of the advisors participating in the survey:

  • 97% say investors don’t understand the differences between brokers and investment advisers.
  • 72% say the titles “advisor,” “consultant,” and “planner” imply a fiduciary relationship exists.
  • 82% say disclosures alone are not sufficient to manage conflicts of interest.

On the retirement issue, advisors said the ERISA fiduciary standard that applies to advice to retirement investors in 401(k) accounts should also apply to IRAs and rollovers from 401(k) and IRA accounts.

  • 79% agree that ERISA fiduciary duty should cover advice on rollovers out of 401(k)s and IRAs.
  • 72% say the ERISA fiduciary duty that applies to 401(k)s should also apply to advice on IRAs.
  • 61% agree that the Labor Department should expand the number of advisors who are considered fiduciaries

To review the complete results, download the full report of findings.

Press release available here.

Also read ThinkAdvisor's coverage of the survey results.

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