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At Deadline

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday asked the financial services industry to comment over the next 30 days on whether there should be different sets of rules for broker-dealers and investment advisors vis-à-vis personalized investment advice to retail investors.

The results of this study, into the effectiveness of the current fiduciary and suitability standards of care and one of the 68 studies required under the Dodd-Frank Act, will be published within six months, or early March.

"Broker-dealers and investment advisors provide critical financial services to millions of American investors," said SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro. "A system that fairly and effectively regulators these market participants is essential to protecting investors."

Todd Cipperman of Cipperman Fund Services said, "Completely eliminating the broker-dealer exemption from the Advisors Act would have much broader implications on brokers than only applying a fiduciary standard to their current activities. They would have to register under the Advisors Act, thereby subjecting them to SEC examination and all other requirements including disclosure and compliance."

FedEx to Restore 401(k) Matches on Jan 1, 2011

As Federal Express first indicated last November, it has announced it will restore 401(k) matches. But the wait is still a long way off: The matches don't start until Jan. 1, 2011.

FedEx began suspending its matches on Feb. 1, 2009, in the midst of the economic downturn and a steep falloff in package deliveries.

In his late 2008 announcement of the suspension to employees and investors, FedEx President and CEO Frederick W. Smith said the company was hit "by some of the worst economic conditions in the company's 35-year history."

ICI, SIFMA Partner on IRA Database

The Investment Company Institute, in partnership with the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, unveiled a new research series on Individual Retirement Accounts Tuesday.

Sixty-three percent of traditional IRA investors who contributed to their accounts in 2007 made repeat contributions in 2008, noted Sarah Holden, ICI senior director of retirement and investor research, on an ICI webinar call.

And 60% of those 2007 contributors maxed out their IRA payments. Conversely, on the lower end of the income scale, as well as among those workers who are not offered a 401(k), research showed that participation is active due to the known tax advantages.

The research showed the "highest persistence in the highest group and in the lowest group," Holden said. "Investors who don't have a savings plan through work or want to supplement their savings might want to consider IRAs, which are a powerful tax-advantaged savings vehicle," she said.

Where participation in IRAs is low, the ICI noted, it could be due to high savings rates in other vehicles, such as 401(k)s, or because an employee doesn't earn much and expects Social Security to comprise most of their retirement income.

The ICI plans to continue its IRA research with reports on rollovers, asset allocations and withdrawals.