State senators in Maryland have submitted a bill that would hold brokers and insurance agents to the fiduciary standard, according to news reports.
The Financial Consumer Protection Act of 2019 includes a provision that would require brokers and agents to put customers’ interests first “without regard to” their own financial gain, InvestmentNews writes.
The bill extends the same requirement to investment advisors, but they’re already held to the fiduciary standard at the federal level as it is, according to the publication. A companion bill in the state House could be introduced shortly, and an aide to one of the bill's authors, Sen. James Rosapepe, D-College Park, tells InvestmentNews that a hearing will soon be scheduled in the state Senate Financial Committee.
Bruce Ferguson, senior vice president for state relations at the American Council of Life Insurers, has slammed the proposal, claiming that it “would do more harm than good to the Marylanders it is intended to benefit” and “deny many savers in the state access to vital financial and retirement security products at the very time they are most needed, especially by low- and moderate-income Marylanders,” according to InvestmentNews.
ACLI, like many in the investment and insurance industries, supports the proposed Regulation Best Interest from the SEC, the publication writes. The final rule, which applies to broker and investment advisor conduct across the board, is expected to come out this summer, according to InvestmentNews.
Many industry groups, such as the Financial Services Institute, have argued against any type of state-level fiduciary rules.
"We want the states to stand down," said Lisa Bleier, managing director and associate general counsel at the Sifma, tells InvestmentNews. "Each state could take a different approach and create conflicting regulations. That's why we support a federal solution."
Knut Rostad, president of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, on the other hand, tells the publication that “it's great that another state is moving ahead to protect investors while the SEC falters.”