Historical timeline of the SEC advice rule

Here are the major milestones on the journey toward the agency's final advice reform package

Jun 3, 2019 @ 11:46 am

By Christina Nelson and Ellie Zhu

  • June 1, 2017

SEC seeks comments on conduct standards

Less than a month after Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton is sworn in, the agency releases a request for comment on conduct standards for brokers and investment advisers. It's the first signal that Mr. Clayton has made advice reform a priority.
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  • March 15, 2018

DOL fiduciary rule dies

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals vacates the Labor Department's fiduciary rule in a split decision, overturning a Dallas district court that had upheld the measure. On June 21, the court issues a mandate making its decision effective.
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  • March 29, 2018

CFP Board expands fiduciary standard

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. unanimously approves an expanded fiduciary standard as part of a revamp of the designation's conduct requirements. Under the new rule, all CFPs — including brokers — must act in the best interests of their clients when providing financial advice. The standard will become effective Oct. 1, 2019.
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  • April 18, 2018

SEC releases proposed rule

The SEC votes 4-1 to release its proposed rule to reform financial advice standards. The nearly 1,000-page package includes three parts: a best-interest standard for brokers (Regulation Best Interest), new disclosure requirements for all advisers and title reform, and an interpretation of the fiduciary standard for investment advisers. A 90-day comment period begins.
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  • June 14, 2018

SEC investor panel conducts first public debate

The SEC Investor Advisory Committee, established to speak for ordinary investors, holds its first public debate about the proposal. Four of the five SEC commissioners attend. Critics say the proposal does not subject brokers to a fiduciary standard, and that Regulation Best Interest for brokers is hazy. Proponents say the SEC rule would raise the bar for brokers by requiring them to mitigate conflicts of interest and act with diligence and prudence.
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  • Aug. 7, 2018

SEC receives more than 6,000 letters

The comment period closes on the SEC advice rule, with the agency receiving more than 6,000 letters. Comments continue to trickle in through April 2019.
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  • Sept. 11, 2018

Usability testing of Form CRS strikes out

AARP, the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Planning Coalition send Mr. Clayton the results of usability testing of investors on a disclosure form included in the proposal: the client relationship summary, or Form CRS. The groups' independent analysis finds that investors do not comprehend differences in services, legal obligations, fees and costs, and conflicts of interest.
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  • Sept. 20, 2018

SEC wraps last of seven roundtables

The SEC conducts the last of seven investor roundtables, held in cities around the country beginning June 4, to discuss Regulation Best Interest and other parts of the advice reform package. The last session, in Baltimore, featured Mr. Clayton and other commissioners.
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  • Nov. 7, 2018

SEC investor panel recommends major changes

The SEC Investor Advisory Committee votes 16-3 to send an eight-page recommendation of changes to the advice proposal to the SEC. It calls on the agency to clarify that the best-interest obligation for brokers means they must recommend products and strategies they believe are the best available options for investors at the time the advice is given; states that recommendations about account types and whether to roll over money from a 401(k) to an IRA must be made in the best interests of the investor; and says the SEC should make explicit that Regulation Best Interest is a fiduciary standard.
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  • Jan. 18, 2019

Nevada unveils fiduciary rule

Nevada releases a fiduciary rule proposal more than a year after the law authorizing it was signed by the state's governor. Nevada took public comments and is planning workshops on the measure.
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  • Feb. 6, 2019

Former SEC officials admonish economic analysis

In a sharply worded comment letter, 11 former SEC officials fault the SEC advice proposal, citing what they call a "weak and incomplete" economic analysis.
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  • March 29, 2019

SIFMA, NASAA send contrary letters on state efforts

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association sends a comment letter to the SEC suggesting it should include preemption language in the final Regulation Best Interest to block state laws and regulations on broker conduct standards. The North American Securities Administrators Association Inc. answers with its own letter on April 25, saying the final measure is not the appropriate place to stop each state effort, but rather the courts are.
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  • April 3, 2019

Maryland fiduciary bill dies

A Maryland bill that would impose a fiduciary duty on all financial professionals in the state, including brokers and insurance agents, dies in committee. For the second year in a row such a fiduciary requirement fails to make it through the state legislature.
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  • April 15, 2019

New Jersey announces fiduciary proposal

New Jersey releases a fiduciary rule proposal for public comment. Under the regulation, a broker who fails to act as a fiduciary would be engaging in an “unethical or dishonest business practice.”
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  • May 1, 2019

DOL says it will revisit fiduciary rule

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta tells lawmakers the agency will revive its fiduciary rule. In a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee, Mr. Acosta says the DOL is working with the SEC as that agency completes its advice reform package, and indicates that its own rule would likely be contoured to the SEC's final regulations.
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  • June 5, 2019

SEC votes on final rule

The SEC commissioners meet to discuss and vote on the advice reform package, and release the long-awaited final language to the public.
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