Senate Democrats seek delay in DOL fiduciary ruling

Ten Senate Democrats have asked the Office of Management and Budget to delay the Department of Labor fiduciary ruling until after the Securities and Exchange Commission decides to hand down its own determinations of fiduciary responsibility. 

As it stands, the DOL is expected to announce its ruling this October.

Citing concerns that the SEC and DOL rulings will conflict, the Democratic senators said moving forward “without parity” could create conflicting rules and ultimately force advisors and brokers to meet two different standards.

“We remain very concerned that uncoordinated efforts undertaken by the agencies could work at cross-purposes in a way that could limit investor access to education and increase costs for investors, most notably Main Street investors,” said the Aug. 2 letter signed by Senate Banking Commission members Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Mark Warner , D-Va.; and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., among others.

Initially proposed in October 2010, the fiduciary ruling, as determined by the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, would broaden the definition of fiduciaries and include those handling Individual Retirement Accounts. Broker-dealers, financial advisors and IRA advisors would be held to a uniform standard of disclosure, in particular clarifying the fees and commissions received from various financial products.

Ultimately the change is intended to protect investors, ensuring the advice delivered from paid professionals benefits the investor, not the advisor.

The financial services industry has come out against the change since it was originally proposed in 2010, believing the ruling is cost-prohibitive.

The letter emphasized the need for a single standard applied to all retail accounts and highlighted concerns that the DOL regulations would directly conflict with a future SEC ruling.

Incoming SEC Chair Mary Jo White told the Senate Banking Committee in July that the commission intends to produce a fiduciary duty proposal of its own. However, White has given no timeline and acknowledged a backload of rule-making decisions because of the Dodd-Frank Act. 

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