HOLLYWOOD, Florida – Advisers affiliated with LPL will soon be free of any perception that they are conflicted even if the implementation of the fiduciary rule is delayed beyond the April 10 deadline, the country's largest independent broker-dealer says.
The firm has been pushing to standardize its investment products so that products within the same category have the same commission rates and contingent deferred sales charges, an important goal in eliminating the conflicts of interest at the heart of the new regulation, according to Arthur Osman, a top executive in the division of LPL that supports banks and credit unions.
The firm has already standardized its variable annuities and alternative investments with advisers selling only the standardized products to clients. The firm is now doing the same for mutual funds as well as fixed and indexed annuities, Osman said during an interview at the BISA convention here on Thursday.
The standardization process for all product categories will be complete by April 10, assuming the rule is effective by then. If not, the firm will take extra time to work in a more deliberative fashion, Osman said.
The Department of Labor last month moved to delay the rule's April 10 applicability date by 60 days to complete a review of the regulation ordered by President Trump. The DoL's proposal for a delay is now open for public comment until March 17.
As a result of LPL's standardization process, all products within the same category will have the "exact same specifics," Osman said. In addition to the same commission rates and contingent deferred sales charges, the products with share the same terms and expense ratios.
Advisers will select products based on the creditworthiness of the carriers, the "investment management solutions within the products," and in some cases the unique riders that the products may have, Osman said. They will assuredly not be based on the commissions and other fees advisers earn.
If the commission rate, expense ratio and contingent deferred sales charge schedule is the same across all products within a category, said Osman, "then you really are eliminating conflict that could exist when those are different."
The firm worked directly with product manufacturers to develop products that met LPL's specifications.
Osman noted that the firm would offer the same product menu for both retirement and non-retirement accounts. Some firms are planning to offer separate menus, according to Kehrer Bielan Research & Consulting.
The product lineups will be mindful of pricing as advisers show increasing interest in lower-cost vehicles, such as exchange-traded funds and passive investment products. Close to half (45%) of advisers have indicated that they will increase their use of ETFs to some degree as a result of the fiduciary rule, and 31% expect to use more passive investment products, according to recent research from analytics firm Cerulli Associates.
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