As the only organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the independent financial services industry, we seek to ensure that your concerns, and those of your clients, are heard where it matters most.
We are proud of the measurable results we achieved in 2021 for our members, even as we faced considerable headwinds from Washington, D.C., and the states. And while many challenges remain in the year ahead, we are looking to maintain our momentum.
Indeed, as your collective voice, we will continue to work tirelessly to support independent financial services firms and advisors, the independent financial services industry, and the Main Street Americans you serve. In 2022, our priorities to benefit these various constituencies will focus on the following:
Issues That Matter for Main Street Americans
Standard of Care
A standard of care should ensure that investors are protected and have access to affordable, objective financial advice, products and services. It also should deliver clarity and consistency to firms and advisors. We believe that the SEC’s Reg BI meets these goals. Therefore, we will work constructively with regulators, helping them understand how well the rule is working in the year ahead. If necessary, we will also fend off potential changes from the federal or state level that would create a patchwork of varying and potentially conflicting standards.
Investor Education and Protection
We will continue to hold educational events and encourage our members to do likewise. These efforts are critical toward boosting financial literacy, a crucial component of helping Americans set and achieve financial goals. Meanwhile, concerns around the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults will only grow as the population ages. We will advocate for states to adopt the NASAA model rule protecting seniors from financial abuse and bring our members and policymakers together for roundtables and events on financial literacy aimed at this group.
Tax Treatment of Investments
Tax policies must enhance Americans’ ability to meet their financial goals. Therefore, we support creating incentives that make it easier for hard-working Americans to obtain financial advice to help them invest and save for retirement. At the same time, we will fight policies that have the opposite effect, including financial transaction taxes, levies on capital gains or any changes to the tax code that upend the preferential treatment of various retirement savings vehicles.
Issues That Matter for Independent Financial Services Firms & Advisors
Independent Contractor Classification
This is at the core of the independent business model. Advisors choose this model not only because they believe it permits them to serve their clients as they see fit but also because it best allows them to spread their entrepreneurial wings and establish roots in their communities. To that end, we strongly oppose any legislation or regulation that would reclassify independent financial advisors as employees of their broker-dealer.
Reducing Burdens on Financial Advisors and Firms
Our mission is grounded in doing everything possible to create a healthier, more business-friendly regulatory environment for the independent financial services industry. To achieve this, we look for ways to reduce the burdens that can often hamper operations and growth of our members’ businesses and align regulatory requirements with the new reality of virtual work and evolving technology.
Specifically, we will engage FINRA on the need to develop common-sense criteria for virtual examinations. In addition, we will continue to push for no-action relief from the SEC to allow payments of securities commissions to business entities owned and operated by financial advisors. Meantime, we will work to eliminate or fight back against proposed professional privilege taxes that unnecessarily increase costs and inhibit investors’ access to advice in the states.
Issues That Matter for the Financial Services Industry
Regulation by Enforcement
Having consistent, predictable rules is a must. Regulators should not be using their enforcement powers to establish new regulatory requirements, or what some call “regulation by enforcement.” New or evolving interpretations of existing obligations should go through the notice-and-comment rulemaking process. This allows all stakeholders to engage, which yields more certainty for businesses and added protections for investors.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
We oppose efforts that would make it more difficult for those named in a matter, but ultimately deemed to have not been involved, to expunge the public record accordingly. We support making harmed investors whole. However, we oppose unpaid arbitration award pools funded by honest industry participants. Instead, federal and state regulators should coordinate to permanently ban bad actors from providing all types of financial services to the investing public.
With more and more business transactions and communications migrating online, issues related to data privacy and security demand constant attention. We support privacy laws that provide carve-outs for our members who comply with existing Gramm-Leach-Bliley requirements.
In 2022, we will continue to work to strengthen our relationships with regulators and legislators to serve our members’ needs better. Though this is an exciting time to be part of the independent financial services industry, obstacles reside around multiple corners. Still, it is our fervent belief that the opportunities to move the industry forward by addressing our shared challenges have never been greater.
Visit our Advocacy Action Center for information on federal and state proposals and opportunities to take action.