Retirement Industry Weighs In On Trump's Fiduciary Rule Delay

In comment letters to the DOL, investment firms, retirement plan service providers and trade groups voice support for the decision to delay the implementation of the new fiduciary rule until the Trump-appointed leadership completes its economic and legal analysis.

Leading investment firms and retirement plan service providers have submitted comment letters to the Department of Labor (DOL) on the proposed 60-day delay of the April 10 implementation of the new fiduciary rule. 

With some variation among them, the comment letters broadly support President Trump’s February 3 memorandum to the DOL, which asked the agency to conduct further analysis and consider alternatives to implementing the controversial rulemaking.

Neuberger Berman, Empower Retirement and Great-West are all in the camp supporting a delay of 60 days or longer. All three firms say this delay is important, particularly in light of President Trump’s asking the DOL to determine once again whether the rule would adversely affect the ability of Americans to receive investment advice.

Great-West goes a step further by pointing out that President Trump has asked the DOL to complete its analysis of the fiduciary rule by the time the 60-day delay expires, i.e. June 9, 2017. But this may not be enough time, so Great-West is asking the DOL to delay for an additional 180 days and “to extend the transition period for a commensurate number of days.”

Great-West points out that “in addition to the 15-day comment period on the proposed 60-day delay, the department has requested comments on the issues raised by the presidential memorandum, and this 45-day comment period will not close until six days after the fiduciary rule’s current applicability date.”

Empower also notes that the DOL might not complete its analysis of the fiduciary rule by June 9. “Therefore, we would respectfully request the department to fully delay the applicability date until the work is complete,” writes Empower President Edmund Murphy.

Trade associations also echo these sentiments, including the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

NEXT: Advice providers’ take

From their perspective, RIA advice providers Financial Engines and Betterment both implore the DOL to proceed with the new fiduciary rule and to dispense with the 60-day delay. Financial Engines says it is living proof that advice can be profitably given to investors, even those with small accounts, by combining automated, online advice technology with certified live advisers.

Financial Engines says there are 92 million people in the U.S. who are managing their own retirement assets—and “there has never been greater demand for high-quality investment advice.”

In its comment letter, Betterment says that the financial industry has long put its own interests ahead of the investors it serves—costing individuals billions of dollars in fees and lost performance. Betterment says the DOL should not delay the new rule’s scheduled implementation on April 10, “as DOL has significantly adjusted its initial proposal to accommodate the industry’s concerns, and the industry has had nearly a year to prepare for the rule’s implementation.”