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DOL Fiduciary News: June 5, 2017

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SEC reasserts itself on investment-advice standards, but it's not clear whether it will overtake DOL fiduciary rule

InvestmentNews; June 2, 2017 @ 1:53 pm

In one of his first actions as Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, Jay Clayton turned the agency's attention to investment-advice standards, a move longed for by financial industry opponents of the Labor Department's fiduciary duty rule. But it's not clear whether the SEC will wrest the issue away from the DOL.

On Thursday, Mr. Clayton released a request for comment about fiduciary duty, an area where the DOL has taken the lead. The DOL regulation, which requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients in retirement accounts, will begin implementation on June 9.

But the DOL measure is undergoing a review at the direction of President Donald J. Trump that could result in its modification or repeal. Opponents assert that it is too complex and costly and encroaches on the SEC's regulatory turf.

SEC Criticized For Rekindling Fiduciary Fight

Financial Advisor; June 2, 2017

The SEC is once again wading into the long-running fiduciary standard debate.

And already, the agency is getting criticism.

On Thursday, SEC chairman Jay Clayton asked for public comment about how the SEC might coordinate with the DOL on its fiduciary rule.

Clayton’s request “looks like a ploy to give the DOL an excuse for indefinitely delaying the January 2018 implementation date while the two agencies work on a watered-down, best-interest standard,” said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America.

The statement from the SEC chairman rehashes the same questions the agency has been studying for more than a decade, Roper said, which shows that the SEC is not really moving forward with a “serious response” to the DOL.

SEC Fiduciary Rule Cannot Replace DOL’s: Financial Planning Coalition

ThinkAdvisor; June 2, 2017

Financial planning groups said Friday that any fiduciary rule considered by the Securities and Exchange Commission “cannot be considered a replacement” to the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule.

The Financial Planning Coalition — comprising the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors — said in a Friday statement that while the coalition is “pleased that the SEC is open to extending the fiduciary standard to broker-dealers who offer personalized investment advice,” and “are especially encouraged by SEC Chairman Jay Clayton’s particular interest,” any work done by the SEC “should not stymie or undercut” Labor’s fiduciary rule.

...A rule considered by the SEC “cannot be considered as a replacement of the DOL’s fiduciary rule, which serves as an enforceable standard for advisors to put the interests of Americans who are saving for retirement ahead of their own,” the Coalition stated. "The DOL rule and any proposed SEC rule would fall under different statutes and serve different purposes." 

What plan sponsors need to know now about the fiduciary rule; June 2, 2017

The June 9 implementation date of the fiduciary rule’s impartial conduct standards will require advisors to 401(k) plans with less than $50 million in assets to act in their clients’ best interests.

Although much of the rule’s impact will be borne by advisors and plan record keepers, the expanded definition of a fiduciary will affect plan sponsors, who have been held as fiduciaries since the Employee Retirement Income Security Act was passed more than 40 years ago.

Exactly how the impartial conduct standards requirement will impact employers is subject to debate, and in the view of some, has left the employer community in an uncomfortable state of limbo.

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