As 2011 winds down, many of the issues that the industry wrestled with are still on the table, including who will oversee advisors and how far fiduciary duty will extend.
That's frustrating advisors as well as the consumer advocates who lobbied for tighter protection for retail investors in the first place.
Barbara Roper, head of the Consumer Federation of America's investor protection program, says vocal industry protests have left the fiduciary rule hung up in a "paralyzed" SEC.
She blames advisors who sell a lot of variable annuity products for resistance to the idea that everyone who makes investment advice should act in their clients' best interest.
At this point there is no firm time frame for ending the debate and getting clarity on this issue.
Once again, advisors with a stake in this -- that is, just about all of you -- have had to spend the year doing the day-to-day heavy lifting while the regulators keep everyone in suspense.
We still don't know who will regulate large advisory frms next year, for example.
But advisors who proactively accepted the fiduciary burden already know who they are and what their duties to their clients entail. You're not drifting in endless suspense.
That's an advantage. It's also probably why the people whose businesses would have to radically change are fighting so hard.