Stewardship Standards

Vincent explores the debate of Industry Standards, Duties, Best Practices and Regulatory Trends

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of Vincent Micciche and do not necessarily reflect those of LifeMark Securities

Vincent Micciche, CRCP, GFS, L5 - Revised September 2020

This guide was designed to assist an independent registered representative (registered rep) in identifying key elements of Regulation BI that affect you in your capacity as a registered rep. Each element addresses a specific obligation you have when making recommendations to your clients.

In addition to complying with Regulation BI, an advisor can use this guidance as a roadmap to demonstrate procedural prudence and substantiation of recommendations. I recommend It be used in conjunction with a decision-making framework like the Global Financial Steward (GFS) process. For your convenience, I have attached the GFS Template as Addendum A to this document.

The following contains guidance and opinions that I have provided, as Chief Compliance Officer, to my firm and others. Note that all firms have different policies and procedures and you should consult with your firm regarding its specific policies, procedures and requirements regarding Regulation BI.


During his confirmation hearings in early 2017, SEC chairman Jay Clayton clearly stated that his highest priority was to propose regulation that would harmonize the professional standards that apply to financial advisors, whether they be insurance agents, financial planners, securities brokers or investment advisors. He would do this by engaging the Department of Labor, FINRA and the State Securities and Insurance regulators.

Since last June, the commissioners have gathered information and identified key questions that would need to be considered in forming their final proposal. Those questions were:
•    How many people would be affected by changes?
•    How would products change?
•    How would changes impact the cost and quality of advice?
•    Would changes increase or decrease the risk to investors?
•    Can advisors demonstrate compliance?
•    Can we effectively enforce?


Vincent Micciche CRCP, GFS, L5

SEC Chairman Clayton recently surprised the financial services industry by boldly announcing that the Commission plans on introducing a Uniform Fiduciary Rule by mid-year. Supporters and opponents alike were surprised by the timetable and agree it’s very ambitious and likely to spur a new round of legal challenges.

Will this become the European Union’s version of our DOL Fiasco?

As we ring in 2018 chaos looms in the financial services industry in the EU as they roll out regulatory changes that are believed to be the most dramatic in more than 10 years. The legislation has been evolving since its introduction in 2007 and is slated for roll out January 3, 2018.

Providing Financial Services to Seniors: Are Firms Doing Enough?

Serving seniors may be the most important challenge and most rewarding opportunity facing today’s financial advisor.

The “Baby Boomers,” those born between 1946 and 1964, began turning 65 in 2011. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, over 41 million people living in the United States, or more than 13% of the population, were 65 or older in 2011. The number of seniors living in the United States will increase dramatically in the future. For example, the number of people aged 65 or older is projected to be more than 79 million in 2040, which is over twice as many as in the year 2000

I am the CEO of LifeMark Securities Corp., an independent broker/dealer-RIA that has, since its inception in 1983, been committed to advancing and practicing Stewardship Standards in delivering financial services to our customers.

I was astounded when I first read the April 14th article, Merrill Seeks To Be Leader On Fiduciary, in Investment News. Honestly, I came away thinking that Blaine Aiken, CEO of fi360, was a public relations consultant for Merrill.

Financial Institutions Should Explain “Why”

Author and leadership expert Simon Sinek has, for years, explored what I believe to be of the most intriguing predictors of corporate behavior. In a Ted Talk , he presented what he calls the “Golden Circle” at whose heart lays the definitive question “Why”. In his talk he notes that an enterprise explaining what they do and how they do it explains little about their differentiation. However, explaining “why” can reveal abundant information about their nature, purpose and motivation.

Examining the Corporate Culture of Wells Fargo

There are many ways of assessing principles and values that corporations subscribe to. You can start by examining the public statement of its values and beliefs and comparing that to its corporate behavior. You can also look at its customer’s assessment of their dealings with the firm and its employees’ level of trust and confidence in management. We can probably all agree that the degree to which a firm or individual values integrity can be found by examining how they hold themselves accountable for their actions.

As the effective date of the Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rule approaches, the agency has issued further guidance in the form of a 16-page document containing 30 questions and answers together with an appendix. This analysis distills the guidance significantly while building on previous analysis I have provided.

Even as the 4/10/17 effective date of the Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rule has come and gone without event, the debate rages on. The battle lines are formed within the House Financial Services Committee pretty much along party lines with the Democrats trying to save the Rule and the Republicans trying to abolish it.