Since the Department of Labor released its proposed conflict-of-interest rule last April, which would make all advisors to IRA accounts and advisors to most of the country's 401(k) plans fiduciaries, the plight of Merlin Toffel and his wife has been leveraged as reason the extensive regulation is necessary.

The Toffels allegedly lost a considerable chunk of their retirement nest egg when they were advised to put their retirement savings in a variable annuity that came with 4 percent annual fees and severe surrender fees.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has cited the Toffels in Congressional testimony defending the necessity and extent of the proposed legislation.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.