DOL Calls For 60-Day Delay To Fiduciary Rule Implementation

On March 1, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed extension for the effective date of the Fiduciary Rule (see The DOL Fiduciary Rule - Should Employers Be Doing Anything? and President Trump Orders Review of DOL Fiduciary Rule; No Delay Yet) from April 10, 2017 to June 9, 2017.

The measure, titled "Conflict of Interest Rule - Retirement Investment Advice" but commonly referred to as simply the "Fiduciary Rule", defines investment advisers as fiduciaries, meaning they must trade and adjust portfolios as if their customers' assets were their own, and seeks to avoid conflicts of interest by mandating that the advisers disclose all of their fees and commission earnings to clients.

The Labor Department's proposed delay, which is scheduled to be published in the register on Friday, outlines a comment period of 15 days in which the public can ask questions about the department's intent as well as Trump's memo. "Frankly, delaying implementation of this rule would be a slap in the face to the companies that have invested, in good faith, for a deadline that has stood for the past year-and to the everyday worker deserving of the assurance that their retirement adviser is working in their best interest".

"More delays are likely", said Mr. Saxena, given that the Labor Department doesn't yet have a secretary installed. "The grant of 60 days will only result in the Department of Labor struggling to undo the fiduciary rulemaking which it has already clearly expressed is beneficial to Americans, and to America itself", Rhoades says.

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After the rule was finalized a year ago, it faced multiple court challenges from business groups seeking, unsuccessfully, to block the regulation. That is how fiduciaries are obligated to act. The Department of Labor created the rule without a clear understanding of the annuity marketplace and consumers will be more confused then ever unless we clean up the requirements in this rule.

During that time, the department said it will collect applicable information on the possible effects of rule, including public comments.

Under the suitability standard, advisors can pick products that are most remunerative to them even if they erode an investors' optimal returns. The delay will provide the DOL additional time to determine the rule's full impact on consumers, and, if necessary, issue a new proposal for revising or rescinding the rule.

  • Regina Walsh