In the face of industry opposition, Massachusetts has finalized rules introducing a fiduciary conduct standard for broker dealers.
The new rules, which will take effect on March 6, will require brokers and their reps to adhere to a fiduciary standard when providing clients with investment advice and making recommendations.
“The failure to adhere to the fiduciary standard…will be deemed a dishonest or unethical practice,” said a release setting out the final rules.
Among other things, the rules require reps to disclose all conflicts of interest, and to avoid or mitigate conflicts as much as possible. They also outlaw abusive practices such as sales contests.
Under the rules, the use of certain titles also implies an ongoing obligation to clients, and attracts a fiduciary duty.
“Broker-dealers advertise themselves today as financial advisers and consultants rather than stockbrokers. These advisory titles imply that they provide much more than ‘incidental advice,'” the release said, noting that holding these reps to a fiduciary standard provides investors with additional protection.
The final rules come in the wake of a consultation that generated almost 700 comments and a public hearing that was held in January.
A handful of U.S. states have introduced their own fiduciary rules in the wake of the federal government striking down a fiduciary standard developed under the Department of Labor (DOL).
The state’s securities regulators will begin enforcing the new requirements on Sept. 1.