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Real financial advisors don't fear the fiduciary rule

"It's about like the Dred Scott decision," said hedge fund partner and Donald Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci.

Scaramucci was drawing a bizarre parallel between an 1857 Supreme Court ruling that held African Americans were not U.S. citizens and the recent U.S. Department of Labor fiduciary rule that requires financial advisors to retirement accounts to act only in the best interest of their clients.

When I first saw the headline and the quote, I wondered if it was a joke — a Saturday Night Live skit, perhaps? But upon further investigation, I was shocked to find that this hyperbolic twist of logic had actually happened.

Woman financial advisor
John Wildgoose | Getty Images

In published reports, he promised that the Republican presidential nominee will rip up a Labor Department investment advice rule if he is elected. "We're going to repeal it," Scaramucci was quoted as saying.

"It could be the dumbest decision to come out of the U.S. government in the last 50 to 60 years," he added.

Precisely who does Scaramucci, founder and co-managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, believe is suffering systemic discrimination in this case? You're not going to believe this: financial advisors. The DOL is "judging what should happen in a free market and attempting to put financial advisors out of work," he said.

And exactly how would the DOL's rule put financial advisors out of work? By requiring them to be fiduciaries. By requiring them to put their clients' interests ahead of their own.


"Real financial advisors don't see this as a political issue, but as a matter of right and wrong."

Let me be clear: Scaramucci does not speak for real financial advisors.

"Real" financial advisors — for instance, those known as Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) — already are held by law to a fiduciary standard. It is only brokers and other advisors who sell financial products for a commission that are clinging to a lesser bar.

Real financial advisors overwhelmingly support the DOL's fiduciary rule, which only applies to Americans' retirement accounts.

While the rule isn't perfect and contains some loopholes, real financial advisors embrace the wider application of the fiduciary standard, and remain hopeful that the rule will expand further to ensure anyone who receives financial advice on any account or in any capacity is also protected by it.

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Real financial advisors don't see this as a political issue, but as a matter of right and wrong.

Real financial advisors don't see the fiduciary rule as in any way undermining free markets, but instead as a standard to help ensure that everyone accessing them through an advisor is better served.

Scaramucci and the big Wall Street firms that have been fighting the fiduciary standard for years do so for a single reason: self-interest. If they are held to a higher standard — if they have to be real financial advisors — their clients could only win. If they consider that a loss, then I believe they have no business calling themselves financial advisors in the first place.

— By Tim Maurer, director of personal finance for Buckingham and The BAM Alliance