Wealth Management

(Rome)

In a very interesting, or maybe offensive, release, the Vatican has just put out commentary from the Pope which criticizes financial advice. In a bulletin called “Considerations for an ethical discernment regarding some aspects of the present economic-financial system”, the Pope appears to criticize advisors who are not fiduciaries, listing among its “morally questionable” activities, “a failure from a due impartiality in offering instruments of saving, which, compared with some banks, the product of others would suit better the needs of the clients.


FINSUM: We have no problem at all with fiduciary advice, but we think it is very close-minded when anyone broadly calls non-fiduciary advice immoral.

(New York)

A lot of advisors have been under pressure to cut their fees. Pressure from competition, both digital and human, has reportedly put downward pressure on the fees advisors feel they can charge. However, Barron’s has put out a piece arguing that advisors should not cut their fees. The reason why stems from the results of a survey which found that advisors who lowered their fees actually brought in less assets and experienced less revenue growth than when they left fees higher. An industry commentator summarized the situation this way, saying “That supports something we’ve seen, frankly, for 15 years, which is, clients don’t leave because of price; they leave because of service issues”.


FINSUM: We think this is a bit of a misleading survey, at least if you buy the “services issues” theory. The reason why is that it is only advisors who have service issues that are cutting fees, which means the lower asset growth does not really have to do with fees, it has to do with a problem with the advisor.

(Washington)

The fiduciary rule saga presses on. Just when it looked like it was all over and the DOL had finally avoided its own rule, the court battle is not over. A new group of state attorney generals has just asked the to be allowed to appeal the fifth circuit court’s ruling against the DOL rule. California, Oregon, and New York have all asked for a rehearing of the court’s May 2nd decision to deny their request to step in as defendant. In their appeal, the states said “The federal government is no longer pursuing this appeal … Given that posture, the exceptional importance of the issues, and the grave harm the states will suffer as a result of the panel opinion — billions of dollars in lost retirement income to their residents and tens of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue — the states respectfully request that the court reconsider the decision”.


FINSUM: This is dragging on so long it is even getting annoying to report on! This does not seem likely to be granted, but one can never be sure.

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