In early February the DOL announced the guidelines for its new fee disclosure rule. Sadly, the DOL (again) pushed back the implementation date three months to July 1. It’s sad for two reasons. First, it only delays the inevitable and perhaps hurts investors. Second, it now precludes the delicious irony of exposing once hidden fees on April Fools’ Day and, given the conflict-of-interest ramifications of revenue sharing, the opportunity to mention “a fool and his money are soon parted.”
Fiduciary proponents no doubt delighted in the forthright aggressiveness of the DOL’s promotion of these new guidelines. Its simple rule to 401(k) plan sponsors should they find a service provider fails to properly comply with the new rule: Fire them. It wasn’t a suggestion; it was an order. This may place some vendors between a rock and a hard place. By showing 401(k) plan sponsors they were saving pennies while losing dollars, it may discourage those 401(k) plan sponsors from selling their soul for one-stop shopping.