Presidential memorandum directs DOL to examine its “Fiduciary Duty Rule”

On Feb. 3, 2017, President Trump sent a memorandum to the U.S. Department of Labor, directing it to “prepare an updated economic and legal analysis” to determine whether its final “Fiduciary Duty Rule” is likely to harm investors, disrupt the industry or cause an increase in litigation and the price of advice.

The memo is directed at a rule the DOL finalized on April 6, 2016, which expands the definition of “investment advice fiduciary” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Under the DOL’s final fiduciary rule, any investment advice given to an employee benefit plan or an individual retirement account is considered fiduciary advice and therefore must be in the “best interest” of the investor. This heightened requirement sets a new standard for advice given to retirement investors.

If ultimately enacted, the impact of the rule will be widespread across asset managers, broker-dealers and insurance companies due to a significant portion of U.S. financial assets being held in retirement accounts. Further, if the rule becomes effective, the SEC is expected to issue a similar proposal to cover non-retirement accounts given the mandate for a federal uniform fiduciary standard under the Dodd-Frank Act. 

The effective date for the rule is currently scheduled for April 10, 2017.

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