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DOL Fiduciary News: December 14, 2017

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SEC Fiduciary Rule Doable in 18 Months, Says Sifma’s Bentsen

Financial Advisor IQ; Dec 14, 2017

Sifma president and CEO Ken Bentsen is confident the SEC can roll out its own version of the fiduciary rule in the 18 months it will take the Department of Labor to review its rule under the recent delay, ThinkAdvisor writes.

Unlike during the previous administration, when the SEC “felt they had to stand aside,” the current commission is “committed to doing this,” Bentsen said at a recent press conference in New York, according to the publication.

The Sifma chief said he’s taking SEC chairman Jay Clayton “at his word” as far as productive conversations between the SEC and the DOL, and added that the commission “can get it down if they want to,” ThinkAdvisor writes.

The final implementation date of the DOL’s fiduciary rule, which would only require retirement account advisors to put clients’ interest first, has been officially postponed from Jan.1, 2018 to July 1, 2019. The SEC’s rule would apply to all advisors. But Clayton has said in the past that the SEC’s fiduciary rule would not “supplant” the DOL’s rule.

IRI Comment Letter to SEC Underscores High Stakes for Annuity Industry

PLANADVISER; December 13, 2017

In an open comment letter submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) stresses the need for any investment industry conflict of interest reforms to be well-coordinated among regulators—and to keep in mind the crucial differences that exist between annuities and equity investments.

For context, in June of this year the SEC published a request for public comment on standards of conduct applicable to investment advisers and broker/dealers when they provide investment advice to retail and retirement investors. The request was among the first actions taken by the SEC under the new leadership of Chair Jay Clayton, and was interpreted by many to represent the SEC jumping in to play a direct role in the ongoing work at the Department of Labor to revamp the fiduciary definition under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

At a high level, IRI argues the work completed so far by the Department of Labor (DOL) on the Obama-era fiduciary rule reforms must be skeptically reviewed by the new administration. According to IRI, major adjustments are needed to the DOL rulemaking in order for it to be considered workable by the advocacy group’s members. Furthermore, IRI argues the DOL has over-stepped the bounds of its authority and is currently engaged in work that would be best left to the SEC. 

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