A Fiduciary Duty for Broker-Dealers? How Dodd-Frank May Change the Way Broker-Dealers Conduct Business

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On July 15, 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd- Frank Act”). Although much attention has been focused on how the Dodd-Frank Act will affect banks, it also has significant implications for broker-dealers. In particular, the Dodd-Frank Act takes a giant step towards imposing a fiduciary duty upon broker-dealers when they conduct business with retail customers. While the Dodd-Frank Act does not immediately impose a fiduciary standard on broker dealers, it empowers the SEC to do so. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro stated in a speech on July 9 that “I have long advocated such a uniform fiduciary standard and I am pleased the legislation would provide us with the rulemaking authority necessary to implement it.”1

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