The Fiduciary Rule Controversy and the Future of Investment Advice

44 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2018 Last revised: 20 Mar 2018

See all articles by Quinn Curtis

Quinn Curtis

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2018


One of the signature rulemaking initiatives of the Obama administration was the Fiduciary Rule, which redefined the relationship between retirement investors and their brokers by imposing broad fiduciary obligations on financial professionals who had previously escaped classification as fiduciaries. The Rule is enormously controversial, and its future remains clouded. This paper offers an assessment of the Rule in light of the academic literature. It argues that, while the Fiduciary Rule is a well-intentioned and plausible means to confront the well-documented problem of conflicted investment advice, it promises only modest benefits when all relevant costs are considered and even these benefits are jeopardized by the risk of rising costs related to compliance and liability. A reform agenda aimed at reducing the demand for costly professional advice is likely to deliver greater returns than regulating how that advice is delivered.

Keywords: Fiduciary Rule, Retirement Savings, Investment Advice, Mutual Funds

JEL Classification: K00, K22, D14

Suggested Citation

Curtis, Quinn, The Fiduciary Rule Controversy and the Future of Investment Advice (March 1, 2018). Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper 2018-04, Available at SSRN: or

Quinn Curtis (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

HOME PAGE: http://

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics