Wealth Management


The lone wolf financial advisor is steadily becoming a rarity in the wealth management industry (Edward Jones advisors aside!). For instance, 77% of Merrill Lynch advisors now report that they work in teams, up from 48% in 2013. Whether you work solo or in a team, one thing many might not know is that FA teams tend to grow their AUM and client base much faster than solo advisors. The advantage seems to be derived from two key aspects. The first is that a team has a wider variety of skill sets to help deliver comprehensive services to clients. The other is that having a team in place makes clients worry less about the impact of losing a single advisor via illness, death, or leaving the firm.

FINSUM: The team approach seems to be working across the industry, with clients liking the change. That said, forming teams comes with its own set of significant risks and considerations.


The anti-fiduciary rule crusaders have been more successful than anyone could have imagined. Back in 2017, the slew of industry groups fighting the DOL’s rule looked woefully outgunned. But in time, they completely succeeded. They are coming off another fresh victory as well—in Maryland—but the next battle looks to be even bigger. That battle will be in New Jersey, a state that seems to have taken the stage as a leader in the state-level fiduciary rule push growing across the US. Unlike Maryland, New Jersey is committed to a rule, which makes this fight more substantial. The new rule in NJ also has the support of some advisors there, giving the proposal more traction.

FINSUM: In our view, it will likely be harder to stop the spread of these state level fiduciary rules than it was at the national level, if only because it is harder to concentrate opposing resources across the whole US. Also, if a state truly has conviction about the rule, it seems more likely to come to fruition.


The Trump administration has slowly but surely exerted its influence on the SEC. After two and half years, the changes are reaching their zenith. The last Democrat at the SEC is set to step down later this year. He is technically entitled to stay through June 2020, but is likely to leave before the autumn, when he is set head back to academia. The departure will open the door to a more conservative appointment. It would also mean there are only three commissioners left at the SEC, two of whom are Republicans, giving them an advantage in SEC matters.

FINSUM: This could have all sorts of ramifications for policy, including the best interest rule. We expect this may have some significant impacts on the the BI rule plays out.

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