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Wagner's Bill to Repeal DOL Fiduciary Rule Set for Markup [This] Week
ThinkAdvisor; October 6, 2017
The House Financial Services Committee will mark up on Wednesday Rep. Ann Wagner’s bill to repeal the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, the Protecting Advice for Small Savers Act of 2017, H.R. 3857.
Wagner, R-Mo., introduced her bill, which keeps a fiduciary rulemaking under the Securities and Exchange Commission’s jurisdiction, on Sept. 27.
Wagner’s bill establishes a best-interest standard for broker-dealers, and as she said in recent comments, repeals Labor’s rule, “period. Full stop. And it gets the Department of Labor out of the broker-dealer space.”
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton told House lawmakers on Oct. 4 that the agency is working on its own fiduciary rule and that “a lot of the themes that you outlined [in the PASS Act] are the themes that I have.”
SIFMA: State-level fiduciary rules would confuse investors
InvestmentNews; Oct 6, 2017 @ 12:07 pm
A major financial industry trade association is warning today that state-level fiduciary duty laws would confuse investors and financial advisers rather than deliver the protections envisioned by the measures.
In testimony today in Las Vegas, Lisa Bleier, managing director of public policy and advocacy for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, plans to tell the Nevada secretary of state that the organization opposes Nevada's newly enacted fiduciary law.
"While SIFMA and the state of Nevada have similar objectives, we may disagree on the best way to achieve those objectives," Ms. Bleier states in prepared remarks for a rulemaking workshop. "We believe a uniform national standard is in everyone's best interest. We are concerned that a state by state approach would subject financial professionals and firms to a confusing and potentially contradictory array of requirements and further muddy the waters for consumers trying to determine their relationship with their broker."
After History of Ducking, Can SEC Act on Fiduciary?
Financial Advisor; October 6, 2017
Will the SEC really act on a fiduciary rule?
SEC chairman Jay Clayton has made action on a uniform standard a top priority, and he confirmed Wednesday in Congressional testimony that the agency is working on it.
But it’s going to be a tough task—a fact Clayton acknowledged.
The SEC has a long history of ducking any action imposing a higher standard of conduct across the board. As seen from the acrimony of the DOL rulemaking, the politics of taking on Wall Street can be a killer.
More than two decades ago, when the brokerage industry was wading through a number of sales-practice scandals, then SEC chairman Arthur Levitt formed a commission led by Merrill Lynch chairman Dan Tully to identify conflicts of interest within commission-based compensation systems, and find best practices to handle them.
Will fixed index annuities stay ahead of fiduciary concerns?
Financial Planning; October 10 2017, 10:20am EDT
Debate over the fiduciary rule cast annuities in a harsh light, resulting in a recent sales slump, but fixed index annuity issuers and distributors remain optimistic.
Few firms have slammed the Department of Labor rule more vocally than annuity firms and their advocates. The Trump administration pushed back full implementation of the rule by 18 months, but experts have predicted gloom for all annuities amid downward pressure on fees and commissions.
Fiduciary advocates often rip annuities, and client arbitration cases involving the product jumped 31% last year to 242, according to FINRA. Sales of FIAs declined 4% year-over-year to $15.6 billion in the second quarter, ahead of a projected 5% to 10% drop this year, according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute.
Providers Remain Uncertain amid Tense Legislative Session
PLANSPONSOR; October 6, 2017
One phrase that comes up time and again during conversations with plan sponsors, advisers and providers is “lasting regulatory and legislative uncertainty,” and there seems to be little sense that the theme will soon recede.
On a recent webcast hosted by Mercer, four of the firm’s on-staff attorneys outlined the huge amount of uncertainty facing sponsors and advisers. They cited diverse sources such as the Department of Labor (DOL)’s pending fiduciary rule reforms, the ongoing discussion about repealing and replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the potential for wholesale tax reform and the reversal of overtime compensation rules—to name just a few of the intersecting forces shaping the conversation in Washington.
The list of regulatory and legislative challenges affecting employers and their retirement plan consultants can seem endless, and when linked to the increasingly active Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plaintiffs’ bar, the Mercer attorneys agreed, it can seem impossible to reach “a point of comfortability.” One simply has to consider the “repeal and replace” effort that has played out regarding the ACA. Republicans, in the majority on Capitol Hill, have attempted twice now to quickly push through unilateral approaches to health care reform, and while both efforts failed outright, the Mercer attorneys anticipate that the “repeal and replace issue will continue to simmer on the back burner and could boil over again at any time.”