Mary Schapiro, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said she “still strongly believes” extending the fiduciary standard to brokers “is the direction that we need to go in,” in comments to reporters after her speech at the "SEC Speaks" conference in Washington.
The SEC has been conducting a cost-benefit analysis of such a rule, and Schapiro told reporters the SEC is seeking “more data” for this analysis, and will be asking the public to provide comments.
It is not clear, however, how long the cost-benefit analysis will take or when a rule might go through. Some had predicted this year, but others have said it could drag out until 2013.
The SEC released a study in January of last year that recommended a strict fiduciary standard. Broker/dealer trade group SIFMA later recommended a fiduciary standard governed by client contracts. Broker/dealers want something that is "business neutral," in other words that will not jeopardize the sale of proprietary or commission-based products. Some of the battle over the fiduciary standard is being fought in Congress. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor is working on its own rule that will dictate when and how the fiduciary standard applies to retirement accounts, including IRAs.