Over the last several weeks, the Financial Services Institute Inc. has been privileged to witness several vivid demonstrations of the power that independent financial advisers can wield in the legislative and regulatory worlds when they come together to make their voices heard.
The Labor Department's continued postponement of its proposal to redefine “fiduciary,” which could potentially ban the earning of a commission on individual retirement account advice, has shown once again that the voice of our industry is playing an increasingly central role in the way legislators and regulators think about new bills and proposals that impact Main Street investors.
The enthusiasm and dedication our members displayed at FSI's recent Capitol Hill Day played a significant role. This annual event gives our financial services firm executives and financial adviser members an invaluable opportunity to discuss the crucial issues affecting our industry face-to-face with lawmakers and their staffs.
This year, more than 100 of our members participated, meeting with nearly 200 members of Congress and their teams to emphasize the need to protect advisers' independent contractor status, ensure that the DOL proposal does not restrict investor access to financial guidance, and preserve tax incentives to help hard-working Americans save for retirement. A week later, the DOL announced the proposal would be delayed again, this time until January.
As one of our members remarked afterward, “Being there on Capitol Hill, it's evident how important it is to have a voice in the ears of our elected officials to ensure they are not only hearing from one side of the table on proposals that will greatly affect our business. It is important that we continue to make the distinction between other firms and our business — which is comprised of Main Street independent broker-dealers — and how differently we are impacted by legislation.”
Fortunately, there are always more ways to get involved. One upcoming opportunity for independent advisers to get engaged and learn more about making a difference in the legislative and regulatory environment will be FSI's upcoming Financial Advisor Summit, taking place in September in Washington.
As we have seen repeatedly, there is simply no substitute for in-person engagement on the part of independent financial advisers in driving real change in Washington and the states.
When lawmakers and regulators hear directly from our members, experience has shown that they take notice and respond. For any advisers who still may be sitting on the sidelines, my team and I at FSI encourage you to work with us and your fellow professionals to make your voice heard and to help us secure a healthier legislative and regulatory environment for both your business and your clients.
Dale E. Brown is president and chief executive of the Financial Services Institute Inc.