The Dodd-Frank Act was supposed to be the cure-all for regulatory malfeasance. Instead, its ineffectiveness and the slow and painful process has only resulted in 123 of the 398 rule making requirements coming into being. Of the SEC’s 95 mandatory regulations, only 28 have been finalized.
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This has earned the Act the moniker Dud-Frank. The act has been placed practically in stalemate mode from the authority it gave the SEC to place anyone who gives retail investors advice under the fiduciary umbrella.
This provision and the SEC’s struggle to come up with a uniform definition of fiduciary has divided the industry even further between registered representatives at large firms who are currently only held to a standard of suitability and independent RIAs who differentiate themselves much more strictly as fiduciaries.
The regulatory impact of Dodd-Frank is almost non-existent. The greatest impact has probably been felt in the family office industry since Dodd-Frank for the first time explicitly defined a family office and a family member. This caused many family offices to have to register as investment advisors and threatened the privacy families of wealth have traditionally held dear.
One impact the Act has made on investment advisors has been to require small to midsize advisors to register on the state level rather than the federal level. Private fund advisors have also had to register so the SEC may more closely monitor dark pools.
Mandatory arbitration clauses in brokerage agreements is also slated to be banned, although no action on that front has been taken. Certain provisions of Dodd-Frank will only affect certain segments of advisors.
So the issue of how all the provisions will be enacted has become very complex. It’s projected another year will go by before the full ramifications—or the Act’s effectiveness—can be determined.
Commentary from the industry has obviously had a hand in keeping new regulatory mandates
in balance. The state of Dodd-Frank at this point clearly shows the complexity of this issue and the difficulty in coming up with the appropriate protections without prohibitivly restricting investment activity.