Boston advisory business benchmarking firm Dalbar has gotten in front of the regulatory curve by coming out with a fiduciary certification program designed to fend off the prospect of stricter rules ahead.
Lou Harvey of Dalbar says his team and the Foundation for Fiduciary Studies based the new Registered Fiduciary designation on the Labor Department's fiduciary standard -- ERISA being tougher and more rules-based than the IA Act of 1940.
In theory, learning the rules and passing the exam should protect advisors from any questions about their ability to comply with the ERISA rules and the IA Act guidelines.
The designation will cost $350 for the test and background check and another $250 a year to maintain.
Needless to say, the bet here is that the SEC will mandate a universal "fiduciary" duty on all financial professionals who deliver financial advice: brokers, RIA reps, everyone. In that event, the RF mark may suddenly become a near-universal in the industry.