Ever since the seperately managed account was introduced decades ago, management of broker/dealers predicted it was the way of the future. They were right, but they were wrong for a while too. I mean, it took a while, and, as the shorts say, if you are too early but are proved right in the long run, the margin calls will kill ya' in the short run. So even I was somewhat surprised by how the fee-oriented model has grown even over the last five years.
In short, FAs of all kinds are acting as fiduciaries and offering fee-based advice. (Indeed, any executive at any of the wirehouses will tell you that essentially all of their FAs are dually licensed --- Series 7 holders and qualified to offer complete financial advice out of the firms' corporate registered investment advisory. At the TD Ameritrade (Ticker: TDAM) regional conference last week, Tom Bradley, who heads up TD's Institutional unit, showed an interesting graph. It noted that in 2010 66% of advisors were fee-only or fee-based oriented. Commission-based advisors dropped to 12%. Oh, and just five years earlier, 29% of FAs were fee-oriented.
The upshot? As is typical, gub'ment regulation is trying to catch up to the market. So, while Congress dithers over the fiduciary standard, most advisors are already there.