Happy anniversary, Dud-Frank law

Jul 20, 2014 @ 12:01 am

+ Zoom

Today marks the four-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, arguably the most sweeping piece of legislation to come out of Congress since the Great Depression.

Big whoop.

According to Hallmark's list, the traditional four-year anniversary gift is fruit. In light of the pitiful lack of progress made on many of the rule-making requirements under the law, might I suggest a lemon?

For financial advisers, Dodd-Frank has been even less ... well, “impactful” (I can see my fellow editors convulse as that word appears on their computer screens).

That's because only a handful of the 398 rule-making provisions in the law have a direct effect on financial advisers. And most of those have been banished to regulatory purgatory.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

The first piece of unfinished Dodd-Frank business that comes to mind is a rule to raise investment advice standards for broker-dealers. The law gave the Securities and Exchange Commission the authority to impose a uniform fiduciary standard for retail investment advice but didn't require it.

Forget about it. Because of the politics involved in creating a uniform standard, it's not surprising that regulators took the path of least resistance and did nothing.

The next gives the SEC authority to end mandatory arbitration for investor disputes.

Not going to happen — at least not anytime soon. That's because the provision is opposed by too many deep-pocketed groups and corporations, which say keeping the disputes out of court helps reduce costs and prevents frivolous litigation.

As anniversaries go, the passage of Dodd-Frank ranks right up there with the anniversary of starting a new job: It's nice to note, but there's work to do.

fgabriel@investmentnews.com, Twitter: @fredpgabriel

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