WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously adopted a registration rule for municipal advisors, establishing that they have a federal fiduciary duty to clients if they provide advice, compensated or not, that is related to bonds or other municipal financial products and involves recommendations based on the specific needs of a municipal entity.

The rule adopted Wednesday, which clarifies the requirement for registration with the SEC, is more narrowly-tailored than the securities regulator's initial December 2010 proposal. It includes exemptions that SEC muni chief John Cross said are based on the activities involved, rather than the status of the individuals or firms.

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