If it seems we’ve been talking about the Department of Labor’s Independent Contractor Rule for years, it’s because we have. It was January of 2021 when the DOL first considered revising the standard for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). On January 10, 2024, the DOL released its final rule. The legal wrangling began immediately. Well, technically, it resumed. The DOL’s intent (which includes protecting workers’ rights when it comes to minimum wage and overtime pay) is reasonable. However, as with many legislative actions, unintended and far-reaching consequences make the rule untenable for constituencies that include independent financial advisors and broker-dealers. What are the consequences for the financial services industry? The rule’s negative impacts have been covered in depth elsewhere: potentially increasing the cost of advice for Main Street investors and compromising a financial advisor’s ability to control how [...]
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New beginnings, especially ones dictated by the passage of time – such as the start of a new year – often prompt both reflection and anticipation, as we look back upon the past and also consider what’s ahead. How will historians look back on 2023? Perhaps more importantly, how will we, as active participants in the wealth management industry, view the challenges, opportunities and outcomes of the past 12 months? Rising interest rates proved to be a double-edged sword for financial services as the increased cost of capital tamped down M&A activity and upended the regional banking sector but also put additional dollars at the disposal of broker-dealers via cash sweep programs. Artificial intelligence (AI) went mainstream in the space as professionals tasked with duties from marketing to compliance relied more and more on advancements in this revolutionary technology to create efficiencies and build scale. Scale … While Taylor Swift [...]
M&A activity in the wealth management space continues at a healthy pace despite headwinds that include higher valuations, increasing capital costs, ongoing market volatility and geopolitical unrest. Although the number and size of transactions are smaller than in years past, they are expected to grow going forward. And, like the industry itself, M&A is evolving in terms of its execution, intent and ultimate goals – for all parties involved. When entrepreneurial businesspeople see an opportunity, they take advantage. The aging financial advisor population presents such a lucrative opportunity for aggregators and expansion-minded RIAs to build scale within their businesses. While the question, “Is bigger always better?’ is an eternal one, for today’s strategic consolidators, bigger isn’t necessarily the goal, or at least not the only goal. Leveraging complementary resources, capturing services that fill an existing gap to better service clients, driving operational efficiencies and providing succession opportunities for NextGen professionals [...]