Editorial

A whirlwind week of conferences

Feb 2, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Frederick P. Gabriel Jr.

I definitely earned my frequent flyer miles last week. On Monday, I made my way down to our nation's icy capital to attend the Financial Services Institute Inc.'s big gathering of independent broker-dealers and financial advisers. As usual, the annual conference, dubbed OneVoice 2014, was a veritable who's who of the broker-dealer world.

Among the heavy hitters on this year's conference agenda were Stephen A. “Tony” Batman, chief executive of 1st Global; Wayne Bloom, chief executive of Commonwealth Financial Network; and Amy Webber, president and chief operating officer of Cambridge Investment Research Inc.

Although much of the talk both on and off the conference floor revolved around recruiting, training and retaining young advisers, considerable attention also was paid to the regulatory landscape. Of course, that isn't surprising, considering that the FSI at its core is a lobbying organization with an annual budget of $7.5 million and a membership of 100 firms and 37,000 advisers.

As reported last week by InvestmentNews reporter Mark Schoeff Jr., the FSI this year will push for legislation to provide permanent protection against threats to independent-broker-dealer advisers' status as independent contractors.

MORE "FIDUCIARY' DELAYS

Also high on its list of lobbying priorities is staving off a pending Labor Department rule that would expand the definition of “fiduciary” for advisers to retirement plans.

But the FSI may not have to work too hard to achieve that goal, which brings me to how I spent the second part of my week.

From Washington, I flew to Orlando, Fla., to attend TD Ameritrade Institutional's 2014 national conference. That event was attended by 3,200 advisers and “industry influencers” (president Tom Nally's words, not mine).

In Orlando, which was cold and rainy, much to the dismay of many attendees, there also was much talk about the Labor Department's proposal to draw more retirement plan advisers under the fiduciary umbrella.

Although the agency is intent on making changes to that definition, it is likely that we won't see any real movement on the issue until next year, according to Skip Schweiss, president of TD Ameritrade Trust Co. and managing director of Advisor Advocacy & Industry Affairs for TD Ameritrade Institutional.

He pointed out that the Labor Department isn't slated to re-propose its definition of “fiduciary” until August and that it is highly unlikely that the agency will do such a thing three months before the elections.

There are many groups — the FSI being one — that are vehemently opposed to what the Labor Department is doing.

Visit InvestmentNews.com/td2014 for a look at all the great stories, videos and tweets produced by IN's reporters and editors at the TD conference.

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