While some financial companies worry about the ramifications of the sweeping financial reform that is set to pass, asset managers appear safe, according to a report released Monday by Keefe Bruyette & Woods.
KBW said it doesn’t expect many changes for asset managers, although its report said that the 2,000-page bill could carry some unpredictable results.
Brokers and advisors may have to follow a fiduciary standard after all is said and done, but KBW said such a standard would not have a major impact on the demand for most investment products. And it could even work to the benefit of asset managers who can get investment products on different distributors’ approved lists.
Last week, after fierce last-minute wrangling, legislators decided to deal with the fiduciary issue by telling the Securities and Exchange Commission to study the differences in the fiduciary and suitability standards over the next six months, and then potentially create rules that fill any gaps, although the language of the bill doesn’t make this mandatory.
Originally, the House’s version pushed for the SEC to create a fiduciary standard, while the Senate preferred to have the agency just study differences between the two standards, without the authority to act on it.
Currently, registered investment advisors are held to a fiduciary standard under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Investment advisors who hold securities licenses report to FINRA, which requires advisor recommendations to be “suitable” to a client’s needs. RIAs have long complained that the suitability standard is not good enough and that anyone selling investment products should do so only when it is in a client’s best interests.
The KBW report also weighs in on the Volcker rule. While the rule is not aimed at asset managers, KBW noted that a handful of asset mangers own banks or are subject to bank regulations. Firms like Franklin Resources, BlackRock and T. Rowe Price could be limited in the amount of capital they invest in certain sponsored alternative products.
Still, KBW said that it expects any fallout on this issue to be minimal.