(London, November 2016) The DOL’s fiduciary rule could create a significant advice gap as mass-market investors are left out in the cold by financial advisors, according to a recent study.
A report by CoreData Research, surveying 552 US financial advisors, found a strong majority (71%) plan to disengage from some mass-market investors because of the DOL rule. On average, these advisors estimate they will no longer service a quarter (25%) of their mass-market clients — creating a potential advice gap for low-balance investors.
The expected move away from mass-market clients comes amid concerns the fiduciary rule will make advice too costly. The majority (64%) of advisors think the rule will have a largely negative impact on mass-market investors and four in 10 (39%) think financial advice will become too expensive for most investors.
The rule, which requires advisors to act in the best interests of clients and disclose potential conflicts of interest, is set to come into effect in April 2017. However, it could be subject to revisions — or even a rollback — under the incoming Trump administration.
Opponents of the fiduciary rule argue smaller clients will be hit with unaffordable fees, thereby limiting their access to advice — as was the case when similar regulation was introduced in the UK. A previous CoreData Research study revealed UK advisors believed the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) had created an advice gap, with over half (52%) claiming its introduction negatively impacted mass-market investors.
“The election of Donald Trump introduces a degree of uncertainty over the fiduciary rule,” said Craig Phillips, head of International, CoreData Research. “However, our research suggests the rule could result in mass-market clients being left out in the cold, creating the prospect of an advice gap in an echo of what happened in the UK when the RDR came into effect.”
Almost half (45%) of US advisors believe investors would rather have cheaper, non-fiduciary advice than more expensive fiduciary advice in findings that reflect widespread misgivings over the DOL rule.
Meanwhile, cost pressures are expected to drive mass-market investors in the US further into the arms of automated advice propositions. An overwhelming majority (94%) of advisors say the fiduciary rule will see those smaller clients ‘orphaned’ by advisors turn to robo-advice.
But the CoreData study also suggests advisors are looking to adopt robo-advice models as complimentary offerings in a bid to retain mass-market investors. Over a third (35%) say they will likely add an automated advice service to their business as a result of the fiduciary rule.
Greater adoption of automated advice offerings will likely accelerate the trend toward passive investment strategies. Six in ten (62%) advisors believe the fiduciary rule will lead to an increase in ETF recommendations in retirement accounts.
- Seven out of ten (71%) financial advisors will look to disengage from at least some mass-market investors due to the fiduciary rule. On average, these advisors estimate they will disengage from a quarter (25%) of their mass-market clients.
- Two-thirds (64%) of advisors view the impact of the fiduciary rule on mass-market investors as largely negative. And 60% believe the fiduciary rule will have a negative impact on at-retirement clients.
- An overwhelming majority (94%) of advisors believe smaller clients ‘orphaned’ by advisors are likely to turn to automated advice due to the DOL rule.
- But a third (35%) of advisors will likely add an automated advice service to their business because of the fiduciary rule.
- Six in ten (62%) advisors say they will increase ETF recommendations in their retirement accounts due to the rule.
- 60% of advisors say they will decrease allocations to non-traded REITs and 57% say they will limit offering variable annuities in retirement accounts due to the fiduciary rule.
- A majority (58%) of financial advisors who currently receive commission say they will move away from it by 2020 in order to get ahead of potential future regulation.
- Three in four advisors (74%) think the fiduciary rule will be expanded to non-retirement accounts.
- In the long-term, 55% of advisors believe commission on retirement accounts will eventually be banned and 24% of this group believe commission on all accounts will be banned.
- Almost half (45%) of advisors believe investors would rather have cheaper, non-fiduciary advice than more expensive fiduciary advice.
- Over a third (36%) of advisors plan to hire additional staff as a result of the rule and 86% plan on working more hours per week.
- Nearly all advisors (95%) see the financial advice industry moving toward a model based on transparency and full disclosure.