New Jersey Unveils State Fiduciary Proposal
New Jersey’s Bureau of Securities has unveiled its much-discussed state-level fiduciary rule, the office of the state’s attorney general says.
The proposed rule would require all investment professionals registered with the bureau, which includes investment advisors, broker-dealers and agents, to put customers’ interests ahead of their own when recommending products or providing investment advice, according to a press release from the office of N.J. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
The new rule would apply to recommendations of investment strategies, opening or transferring accounts and the trading of any security — extending through the execution only, the AG’s office says.
The proposal allows for transaction-based fees if they’re reasonable and are “the best of the reasonably available fee options for the customer, and the duty of care is satisfied,” but bans “harmful incentives” such as sales contests, according to the press release.
In addition, dual registrants would be bound by the fiduciary duty across their entire relationship with the client, the office says.
In unveiling the rule, both Grewal and Governor Phil Murphy said it was the alleged failure of the federal government to guard investors against financial abuse that prompted the state to move forward.
The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, which applied the fiduciary standard to retirement account advisors, was killed in the courts last year. And the SEC’s proposed Regulation Best Interest, which aims to overhaul conduct standards for both investment advisors and brokers, isn’t expected until much later this year.
“At a time when the federal government is undermining the consumer protections implemented in the wake of the 2008 economic crash, we are committed to ensuring our residents and families are protected from predatory financial practices,” Murphy says in the press release.
New Jersey’s Bureau of Securities opened the proposal for comment until June 14, the regulator says. The rule is expected to become final in the fall and then take effect in 90 days, according to the press release.
The financial services industry has been vehemently opposed to state-level fiduciary initiatives, which are also underway in Nevada, New York and Connecticut, saying they would cause too much conflicting regulation.
When a state-level fiduciary rule initiative in Maryland was overwhelmingly rejected by the Maryland Senate Finance Committee earlier this month, for example, the Insured Retirement Institute immediately welcomed the defeat, as reported.
And several brokerage giants, including Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Edward Jones, said they would have to cut down or eliminate some of the investment options they currently offer in Nevada if the state went through with its proposal.
Similarly, the Financial Services Institute issued a statement yesterday in response to New Jersey’s fiduciary proposal, saying the SEC should be the one developing such standards and that initiatives at the state level “will lead to a patchwork of varying requirements across the country, confusing investors and creating uncertainty for advisors who are trying to best serve their clients while also obeying state and federal regulations.”