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DOL Fiduciary News: February 20, 2017

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Kansas judge again upholds DOL fiduciary rule

InvestmentNews; Feb 17, 2017 @ 6:46 pm

A Kansas federal judge upheld the Labor Department fiduciary rule on Friday, giving the measure its fourth court victory since November.

Judge Daniel D. Crabtree granted summary judgment to DOL in a lawsuit filed by Market Synergy Group Inc., a Topeka insurance agency that develops fixed index annuities and other proprietary insurance products.

The decision comes while DOL seeks a delay in the rule's April 10 implementation date. The agency has been directed by President Donald J. Trump to reassess the measure's impact and possibly amend or replace it.

Justice Department seeks stay in Thrivent lawsuit against DOL fiduciary rule 

InvestmentNews; Feb 17, 2017 @ 1:29 pm

The Department of Justice has requested a stay in the lawsuit against the Labor Department's fiduciary rule brought by Thrivent Financial, just one week after another court denied the department's request for a stay against the rule in a separate case.

A letter from Galen N. Thorp, one of the DOJ attorneys defending the rule against industry lawsuits, to Minnesota district court judge Susan Richard Nelson on Feb. 15 asks for a stay in legal proceedings "pending the results of the review directed by the President."

New Labor Secretary Nominee Brings Legal Mind to Fiduciary Debate

InsuranceNewsNet; February 17, 2017

Alexander Acosta, nominated Thursday to lead the Department of Labor, drew praise today as a thoughtful, experienced candidate likely to express mainstream conservative views on regulations.

In other words, the perfect labor secretary to provide swift clarity to the financial services industry on the DOL fiduciary rule.

“There isn't much to indicate where he will stand on the fiduciary rule, except that, as a conservative, he is probably skeptical of regulation of business,” said Fred Reish of Drinker Biddle & Reath. “On the other hand, as a lawyer who has practiced and taught, he should have an appreciation of the difference between good regulation and bad, as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction against any and all regulation.” 

Trump throws future of fiduciary rule into disarray

Pensions & Investments; February 20, 2017

As the April 10 deadline approaches for implementation of the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule, some members of the defined contribution industry are forging ahead with compliance strategies while others are holding off. Many others are uncertain.

The cause for uncertainty is President Donald Trump's Feb. 3 order to the DOL to review the regulation and propose “rescinding or revising” it if the department determines the rule “has harmed or is likely to harm” investors or is likely to increase litigation and costs to investors and retirees.

However, making a change — even to extend the April 10 deadline — requires a complex process that includes issuing a new proposal, seeking public comment and publishing a final regulation

More optimistic indexed annuity sales outlook lets market look past Q4'16 slump; Friday, February 17, 2017 3:24 PM ET

Earnings reports showing unfavorable fourth-quarter 2016 sales comparisons among some of the nation's leading producers of fixed indexed annuities have done little to derail the optimism that has surrounded the sector in recent weeks.

Word that the U.S. Department of Labor would consider its options to delay the planned April implementation date of the Conflict of Interest Rule, better known as the fiduciary rule, supported the market's expectation that the new administration would take steps to roll back a policy likely in its existing form to hinder fixed indexed annuity sales.

Allianz Group, the parent of the No. 1 U.S. seller of indexed annuities as measured by survey data compiled by the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, reported statutory U.S. life and health premiums of €2.43 billion for the fourth quarter of 2016, down 11.6% from the year-earlier period.

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