For as much press as the recent financial reform legislation received, most financial advisers appear unaware of its importance for their business and clients.

An SEI Advisor Network survey said nearly 75% of advisers are either "somewhat familiar" or "not familiar" with the implications of financial reform.

About 6% said they were "very familiar" with these changes.

Moreover, more than half (56%) of the advisers had not discussed the recent reforms with their clients, according to a press release from SEI Investments.

"Currently, advisers are spending more time talking to clients about the volatile market and not focusing on other parts of the business, [which] has caused advisory to lose a significant amount of money," Wayne Withrow, an SEI executive vice president and leader of the SEI Advisor Network, said in a phone interview.

However, he added, "given the volume and pace of information concerning regulatory reform, it is not surprising that financial advisers are not completely up to speed on the reform in its various stages."

Roughly 43% said they were "undecided" about how the reform would affect daily business operations like sales and client retention.

And 40% were unaware whether the changes would shrink client demand for their services.

"The biggest impact will depend upon the results of the SEC study on fiduciary standards for all financial advisers," David Strege, a senior wealth coach at Syverson Strege & Co. in Iowa, said in an e-mail.

"If the SEC [decides] that all financial advisers are fiduciaries in the role of giving advice and that they must work for the best interest of the client," he said, that "will cause significant changes to be made in many practices."

Withrow said that the uncertainty in the market, coupled with the advisers' lack of knowledge about the reforms, could only add to the problems the industry is experiencing.

"I've found that being conversant in this complex topic has been a differentiator in communicating with clients and prospects," Strege said.

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