The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
By Cyril Tuohy
A new poll of 2,300 independent financial advisors by the Financial Services Institute (FSI) has found that 66 percent believe the Republican Party will win the U.S. Senate in November.
The poll also found that as many as 90 percent of independent advisors oppose a rule pending with the Department of Labor (DOL) to redefine the term “fiduciary.”
“Independent financial advisors have their fingers on the pulse of politics and policy as Washington and state capitals play an ever-increasing role in their business,” FSI president and chief executive officer Dale Brown said in a news release.
In November, 35 seats in the U.S. Senate and 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election. In addition, 36 states have elections for governor.
Republicans control the House, Democrats the Senate. Many political analysts say Democrats risk losing control of the Senate in November.
Independent advisors, Brown also said, have a “unique vantage point” on issues because they work so closely with Main Street investors.
The FSI poll also found 90 percent of independent financial advisors opposed to the DOL’s fiduciary rule, and that opposition has held firm over the past year.
“We see no sign of complacency creeping in as the rule is postponed yet again,” Brown said.
The fiduciary rule, which has been delayed for several years, was postponed yet again earlier this year after opposition from broker/dealers and some financial advisor groups.
DOL officials said they would reconsider the rule next year but skeptics wonder if the rule will even be proposed at all.
Advocates of broker/dealers and investment advisors meeting a fiduciary standard of care say the rules will help protect employees from advisors who face conflicts of interest.
Advisors face conflicts when they earn commissions on the products they sell. By law, brokers and many financial advisors need to meet only a “suitability” standard of care for investors, even if that standard isn’t necessarily in the best interest of investors.
Opponents of the fiduciary rule say it will be more expensive for them to do business, and that they may have to drop clients. Advice that meets a lower, suitability standard of care is better than no advice at all, fiduciary rule opponents say.
The FSI poll also found that 43 percent of independent advisors believe 2014 will end with a “strong” stock market performance, 49 percent were “neutral” and 8 percent said the stock market will end the year “weak.”
The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 6.1 percent in the first six months of the year.
FSI represents more than 37,000 independent financial advisors, and more than 100 independent financial services firms who represent upward of 160,000 affiliated financial advisors.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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