Happy Friday, readers! It seems hardly a week goes by during which the Department of Labor fiduciary rule doesn’t dominate the retirement industry trade press headlines. That was clearly the case this week, with the emergence of a new rule proposal aiming to delay implementation of the tighter conflict of interest standards championed by former President Barack Obama. Find our full coverage below—along with the latest features and research from our bimonthly print magazine.
Even if the DOL leadership under President Trump declines to enforce a strict fiduciary standard, private litigators will undoubtedly pick up any slack if the administration fails to fully eliminate the Obama-era conflict of interest rulemaking.
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Recent months have seen a wave of new litigation, against several large 403(b) plans maintained by prominent private universities. The lawsuits, which claim breaches of fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, are in some respects similar to 401(k) fee litigation cases. However, other aspects of these suits are relatively novel.
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Some ERISA attorneys argue the Fifth Circuit decision last week to vacate entirely the DOL’s fiduciary rule expansion makes a Supreme Court decision on the matter inevitable; others are less sure that a decisive SCOTUS decision could be forthcoming, instead expecting the SEC to take the lead; still others admit they have little idea how the regulatory picture will shake out, recommending patience and ongoing compliance.
The latest decision out of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals throws a dramatic new element of confusion into the epic regulatory saga that has been the rollout of the Department of Labor fiduciary rule.
Chuck Coldwell, vice president - national director, Consulting and BOLI Services at Pentegra, believes as an industry, we still have not reached the goal of getting the majority of participants in a good place for retirement—even with auto enroll and escalate.