Week InReview: April 21, 2017

"What does it tell you about the fiduciary rule that (1) big brokerages are shifting to fee-based accounts even before the rule goes into effect (and even though it may never go into effect), (2) investors seem happy about that, and (3) the brokerages are even happier about it?

'Besides positioning themselves to better compete with the rise of smaller, independent rivals and investors' growing preference for passive investments, brokerage executives found that fees for advice and services could be more lucrative over the longer term compared with commissions. Researcher Morningstar Inc. says fee-based accounts can yield as much as 50% more revenue than commission accounts.' On the one hand, it does suggest that some criticism of the rule - that it would make retirement advice more expensive - might be correct.

On the other hand, people seem happy to pay more for better, unconflicted advice. And perhaps it doesn't matter much one way or the other: If everyone switches to fee-based accounts without the fiduciary rule, then the debates about the fiduciary rule will seem a little pointless."
Matt Levine Fraud, Satisfaction and Bubbles

Read entire Week InReview: April 21, 2017