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A little more than 3 years ago, the SEC strengthened fiduciary rules with the passage of Reg BI, and this was also adopted by FINRA. According to a recent report from state regulators, brokerages are still struggling to comply with these new regulations.

In essence, Reg BI ensures that any recommendations made by a broker have to be offered impartially along with an explanation of any alternatives. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that there is no conflict between a broker and the client without necessarily imposing the full fiduciary obligation of RIAs. 

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) reviewed broker compliance efforts and found middling results especially given that 3 years have passed. Additionally, the SEC and FINRA have stepped up enforcement efforts this year.  According to the group, there remains room for improvement especially as many brokers remain uncertain about the rule and its application to products like annuities, leveraged products, private placements, or other alternative investment products. 

Many firms are creating their own protocols regarding compliance and spending more time on understanding their clients’ risk tolerance and goals before providing recommendations. However, the group also found that many brokerages are too lax especially when it comes to providing disclosures and alternative recommendations. 

FinSum: The North American Securities Administrators Association conducted an audit of brokerage to see how Reg BI compliance efforts are going. 


REITs are in the midst of another leg lower and have effectively wiped out their gains from May and July with a 9% decline over the past six weeks. Year to date, the sector is down by 7% while it was up as much as 9% at its highest point in the year as measured by the Vanguard Real Estate ETF. This follows even steeper, double-digit losses in 2022.

In recent months, the weakness of the long-end of the Treasury curve has hit all types of yield-generating assets like REITs and dividend-paying stocks. Fed fund futures markets are downgrading the chances of rate cuts in 2024 while extending the duration that rates will remain at these levels. There is even increased chatter about how the Fed’s terminal rate must even go higher in order to truly stamp out inflation.

It’s a double-edged sword for REITs as the bulk of the sector continues to deliver impressive financial results with defaults remaining low especially in areas with strong fundamentals like healthcare and industrials. Yet, the stocks are unlikely to rally as long as rates remain elevated at these levels even despite attractive yields.

Finsum: REITs are in the midst of another leg lower and falling to new annual lows due to an uptick in inflationary pressures and the Fed coming out more hawkish than expected.


Friday, 29 September 2023 13:05

Parting is such suite sorrow

Bringing home the bacon.

Before taking their talent to UBS Wealth Management, a five person Connecticut team was grinding, managing $700 million in Greenwich, according to a recent announcement, reported The team had been at Merrill Lynch.

Also bidding Merrill adieu was John Foley, who managed $340 million in client assets. He landed at RBC Wealth Management, the announcement indicated.

In terms of recruitment, it seems Merrill’s been a favorite target of UBS. That includes a group of 18 in Columbia, South Carolia. A total of $2.6 million was managed by the team. 

In other industry activity, LPL Financial scored a group of finance advisors with $260 million in client assets, according to Specializing in retirement programs for schools, universities and hospitals, known as 403(b) plans, the group had previously been at Valic Financial Advisors Inc.

“We specialize in financial education and breaking down complex financial situations to a place where clients can better understand and be more comfortable with their decisions,” said financial advisor Angelo Burns in a statement. He’d been at Valic since 2011.



JPMorgan upgraded the global energy complex to an ‘overweight’ rating as it sees the possibilities of an energy ‘supercycle’ due to low levels of CAPEX over the past few years and near-term supply shocks. The bank believes that Brent crude oil prices could reach $150 by 2026. It sees upside for major energy producers and operators like Shell, Baker Hughes, and Exxon Mobil.


Oil prices have risen in the second-half of the year with WTI crude oil exceeding $90. This places strain on consumers, adds to inflationary pressures, and complicates chances of a Fed pivot. Oil prices have maintained their gains despite increasing concerns that a recession may be materializing given soft labor and consumption data.


The biggest driver of prices has been stronger than expected demand coupled with OPEC production cuts. It sees a tight supply/demand dynamic lingering over the intermediate-term which means increased susceptibility to geopolitical shocks. Based on current trends, the bank anticipates a 1.1 million barrel per day deficit in 2025 which could widen to 7.1 million barrels per day in 2030. 

Finsum: JPMorgan sees the possibility of an energy supercycle due to demand remaining resilient and supply concerns.


In recent weeks, fixed income drifted lower due to concerns about Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s upcoming Jackson Hole speech, where he was expected to strike a hawkish tone given the economy continuing to expand at a moderate pace and inflation remaining well above desired levels. 


Powell did lean hawkish in his remarks but not enough to fuel further selling in bonds. Notably, he warned that the FOMC was prepared ‘to raise rates further’. However, he did temper this with constructive comments on the economy’s resilience and inflation’s path lower. Equity markets experienced strength following the remarks as the speech was less hawkish than expected.


The ultimate takeaway is that the Fed is still hawkish, considers inflation too high, and further hikes are on the table if necessary, but it’s less hawkish than a few months ago. Additionally, it sees the resilience of the economy and progress on the inflation front as reason to remain patient in its current stance which delays the idea that rate cuts are going to happen anytime soon. 


Thus, it’s not surprising to see odds for a rate hike later this year edge lower in addition to the odds of a rate cut in the first half of 2023. So far, the ‘higher for longer’ camp continues to be correct which is leading to weakness on the long-end and creating attractive opportunities on the short-end. 

Finsum: Fed Chair Jerome Powell gave his much awaited speech at Jackson Hole. He struck a relatively hawkish tone which was broadly in line with expectations.


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