Wealth Management

(Washington)

Advisors need to start thinking about what the post-election tax landscape might look like for clients, especially high earners. The proposed Biden/Democratic tax package is even more stringent than many think, as when you diver deeper it becomes clear that the increases are quite extensive. One core element that is less understood is Biden’s Social Security Payroll tax of 12.4%, which applies to all income with no cap (all income between $137,000 and $400,000 would be taxed at the same level). Combining that with a raised federal tax rate of 39.6%, and state taxes means that some residents of high tax states could see punitive-levels. For example, in California, which has a 13.3% top tax rate, the total tax burden for high earners would be over 65%! Even in states without state taxes, income taxes could be 52%. Furthermore, Biden intends to eliminate capital gains tax rates for those who earn more than $1m, effectively doubling the capital gains tax rate.


FINSUM: There is good news and bad news here. The bad news is obvious. The good news is that because of the state of the economy and the need for fiscal stimulus, Democrats are unlikely to pass these measure until we re-reach full employment, which could be years.

(New York)

LPL has been a true leader on the recruiting front in 2020. One should expect no less from the largest independent broker-dealer. As one of their new initiatives, they have just launched a program—called the “independent employee” model—to try to attract new advisors who want some of the benefits of being independent, but also want to be a W-2 employee. Such models have been around for a long time, and are most prevalent at Raymond James and Ameriprise, but LPL thinks there is an opportunity to scale it up. The program is designed to appeal to wirehouse advisors who like being W-2s but want to earn higher payouts. Payouts for the program range from 50-70%.


FINSUM: If an IBD is a halfway house between being a wirehouse advisor and being an independent RIA, then this is a one-quarter-way house. It does seem like this might be a smart move—W-2 benefits with higher payouts.

(Washington)

Advisors are mostly a conservative bunch, so many are incredulous of the current political polls. Others just don’t want to think about a Biden presidency. That said, if oddsmakers are right and the Democrats take over in a January, a strict new fiduciary rule is likely on the way much faster than almost anyone in the industry suspects. The reason why is the method the Democrats are likely to use to make a new rule. While all of us have seen how slow the rulemaking process has been at the DOL and SEC—and have probably thought of that as the status quo—Barbara Roper from the Consumer Federation of America pointed out this week that instead of crafting a new rule, democrats are probably just going to use the existing Reg BI framework and modify it.


FINSUM: Using an existing rule infrastructure and just beefing up parts of it would be a much quicker process than crafting a new rule. We might have a strict fiduciary rule by June 2021. You have been warned.

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