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Commission accounts could be preferable for some clients, and advisers could be incentivized to move from employee broker-dealers to independent channels.
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The firm said it lost 47 brokers in the fourth quarter, the most in any quarter of 2017.
Improvement reflect firm's shift of more clients into fee-based accounts priced on asset levels, which boosts results as markets rise.
A plaintiff would have to state in their initial complaint why fiduciary duty was breached, and then prove the violation with 'clear and convincing evidence.'
Questions remain about long-term effectiveness of wirehouse's move away from recruiting experienced brokers.
But long-term, the agency may get around questions of constitutionality by changing the way it brings on administrative law judges.