Obama-era rule on financial advisers to go forward, for now

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The DOL's intention to issue a Request for Information (RFI) "in the near future" for additional public input on "specific ideas for possible new exemptions or regulatory changes based on recent public comments and market developments".

It's a victory for supporters of the rule, which states that financial advisers must act in the best interest of clients in retirement accounts. President Donald J. Trump has ordered the DOL to review the rule, leaving open the possibility for revision ahead of that date.

Acosta published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal late Monday announcing that his agency has found "no principled legal basis" to further delay an initial implementation date for the rule. "Respect for the rule of law leads us to the conclusion that this date can not be postponed". It also changes the definition of who is a fiduciary when it comes to advising employers on their 401 (k) s, pensions and other retirement plans.

The rule goes into effect on June 9. The Labor Department estimated under the Obama administration that such questionable advice is costing retirement savers about $17 billion a year.

The announcement dashes the hopes of many in the financial services industry who wanted a more substantial delay. That's the date that the DOL's fiduciary rule will kick into effect.

But Consumers Union urged the Labor Department to "resist industry-led efforts to diminish or weaken the rule and the important protections it provides".

Experts say problems sometimes arise when people who are retiring "roll over" their employer-based 401 (k) assets into IRAs. As a result, the new rule would require brokers and advisors to put their clients' best interests before their own profit.

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Neil Bradley, chief policy officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another fiduciary rule opponent, said the business trade group would "continue to pursue all available options" to stop the rule. "Now that the fiduciary rule is cast in stone, common rollover practices violate regulations".

"ADISA acknowledges the statements made by Labor Department Secretary Acosta", said ADISA President John Grady, DLA Piper.

"Although courts have upheld this rule as consistent with Congress's delegated authority, the Fiduciary Rule as written may not align with President Trump's deregulatory goals". We believe that the fiduciary rule, as now written, may well harm the very people it is intended to protect - particularly those retirement savers of modest means who may find themselves unable to afford professional investment advice.

The fiduciary rule was drawn up under the Obama administration amid concern that many retirement savers were being steered into high-cost investments that could eat away at their savings.

But Acosta also alludes to a to the need for further review of the rule, with no timeline given.

The rule was unveiled by the Obama administration in 2016, and was set to start in April. The SEC may be expected to take a friendlier approach to the financial industry than the Labor Department.

Labor secretary Alexander Acosta. "We will do so while respecting the principles and institutions that make America strong".

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