PHOENIX - At the American Bankers Association conference this
week, a blanket of uncertainty hung in the air as attendees buzzed
about the ongoing regulatory reform efforts in Washington and how
it would impact the banking industry.
The truth is no one knows.
A total of four sessions at the conference were focused on
regulation and fiduciary responsibility and speculation swirled in
the general session and throughout the conference about who would
be affected and how.
As conference attendees asked questions and traded rumors,
regulators in Washington wrangled over a proposal to set up a new
Consumer Financial Protection Agency within the Federal Reserve, a
step toward larger financial regulatory reform.
The most important message at the conference came from David
Coffaro, the managing director of trust and estate services at
Wells Fargo [WFC], who spoke in the general session Monday about
His conclusion: fiduciary responsiblity should be seen as an
opportunity not a hardship. At a time when many clients are losing
trust in their advisors and institutions those who are fiduciaries
should be touting the fiduciary story.
"Instead of running away from fiduciary responsibility we should
be embracing it," Coffaro said. "Fiduciaries always have to put the
client first. Those who are fiduciaries should have a leg up on
those who aren't."
As advisors continue to look for ways to recruit and retain
clients, being a fiduciary is a story worth telling. Ronald M.
Florance, Jr., director of investment strategy & asset
allocation at Wells Fargo, doesn't see how being a fiduciary can be
a bad thing: "If you're doing what you should be doing anyway,
which is putting the client first, I don't see what the problem
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