Top Advisors Weigh In: Same Approach, Different Documentation in Reg BI Era

By Rita Raagas De Ramos November 20, 2020

FA-IQ reached out to top Financial Times-listed advisors to ask:

What has changed for you since the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest took effect on June 30?

Craig Beden of Beden Wealth Management. Vienna, Va.-based Beden has been in the industry for 36 years and has $350 million in client assets.

“Reg BI has required advisory teams to adjust to new forms, requirements and processes for documenting recommendations. Like any changes, it has taken a bit of adjusting.

Craig Beden
The intent of Reg BI is obviously to make sure we are doing what is in the client’s best interest. We as a practice group have always put our clients first. 

The documenting and other regulatory procedures are important. Our practice group has always maintained careful documentation of client investments and planning recommendations. The added requirements and forms have been cumbersome, but we are adapting to the changes.

The end result is each new client engagement and account opening will require more time from our operations teams.”

Cheryl Holland of Abacus Planning Group. Holland — who splits her time between Columbia and Greenville, S.C., as well as Fredericksburg, Texas — has been in the industry for 32 years and has $1.26 billion in client assets.

Cheryl Holland

“The most obvious change was circulating Form CRS to distinguish our services from brokers and, in some cases, other registered investment advisors.  We welcomed this opportunity to share what’s special about our firm and help educate potential clients about the questions they should be asking any prospective advisor. Abacus has a long and storied role of working to elevate the industry to a profession of fiduciaries.”

Richard Buoncore of MAI Capital Management. Cleveland-based Buoncore has been in the industry for 42 years and has $1.7 billion in client assets.

Richard Buoncore
“We haven’t changed our approach since Reg BI took effect this summer because we’ve always taken a best interest perspective for our clients. MAI’s mission has always been and will always be centered on acting in our clients’ best interests and to be the most trusted provider of sound, objective, goals-based advice in all aspects of their lives. Our recommendations are objective and centered on supporting clients in achieving their goals. MAI’s investment, planning and tax professionals collaborate with clients to develop, implement and monitor a financial plan tailored to meet their unique and individual needs.

Our firm adheres to a philosophy of attentive client service and preserving capital, while providing meaningful growth opportunities. We firmly believe that before making any recommendations, it is crucial to take the time to get to know our clients and fully understand their goals and concerns. By making this investment of time, we are able to develop meaningful partnerships with those who entrust their future with us. We take great care in serving the specific and unique needs of our clients and have the depth and experience to meet those requirements.”

Philip Hildebrandt of Segall Bryant & Hamill. Chicago-based Hildebrandt has been in the industry for 35 years and has $19.8 billion in client assets.

Philip Hildebrandt
“Nothing has changed for us since Regulation Best Interest took effect as we have always been held to a fiduciary standard as a registered investment advisor. More importantly, placing our clients’ interests first has been a part of our firm ‘DNA’ since our inception in 1994. The difference in ‘best interest’ and a fiduciary standard is still light years apart, so while this is a step in the right direction, I believe there should only be one gold standard in our industry.”

This is part of an ongoing series wherein we ask Top Financial Times 400, 300, and 401 Advisors to answer pressing questions about the industry, their practice or their clients. Brokers and advisors make it to the respective Financial Times lists based on scores in six criteria: AUM, AUM growth rate, years in existence, advanced industry credentials, online accessibility and compliance records.

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