Five years ago, the Financial Planning Association achieved a legal victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the Securities and Exchange Commission's "Merrill Rule," which exempted brokers from being regulated as investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 in fee-based brokerage accounts. "That hasn’t resulted in a level playing field" yet, says Duane Thompson, former managing director for government relations at the FPA, but it "moved the debate further down the road."

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