With less than four business days to go before the April 10implementation date of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, the Officeof Management and Budget is still taking meetings with prominentsupporters of the rule.

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Related: Industry requesting longer delay offiduciary rule

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The AARP and the CFP Board of Standards, both of which lobbiedagainst the proposed 60-day delay currently under review at OMB,met with regulators as recently as April 3.

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The last-minute input from stakeholders may or may not be anindication of whether a delay of the rule’s implementation datewill be issued before next Monday, April 10.

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Many stakeholders have presumed that a delay would indeed beissued before April 10.

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In a field assistance bulletin issued by Labor in March thatoffered temporary compliance relief in the event a delay was issuedafter April 10, regulators said the Department intends to decide onthe proposed delay before next Monday’s scheduled implementationdate.

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Notwithstanding that intention, the ability to delay theimplementation date before next Monday is not a decision that isentirely in the Labor Department’s hands, said Erin Sweeney, anERISA attorney with Miller & Chevalier.

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“The OMB is a completely separate entity,” Sweeney toldBenefitsPRO, suggesting that the ability to delay the rule beforeits scheduled implementation date would come down to OMB’s ownstandard of review. “The DOL isn’t in control of everything onthis.”

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The bottom line, says Sweeney, is that it’s not safe to assume adelay will be finalized by April 10. “Hopefully we will get a finalrule published before April 10, but I’m not optimistic.”

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Last November’s Presidential election threw the fiduciary rule,and regulated stakeholders, into a state of limbo.

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Immediate post-election predictions of the rule’s demise weretempered, as the Trump administration remained mostly silent on thematter throughout the transition phase and early days of itsadministration.

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Even the February 3 Presidential Memorandum on the fiduciaryrule kept open the possibility that at least some aspects of therule’s primary provisions would survive.

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“One of the priorities of my Administration is to empowerAmericans to make their own financial decisions, to facilitatetheir ability to save for retirement and build the individualwealth necessary to afford typical lifetime expenses, such asbuying a home and paying for college, and to withstand unexpectedfinancial emergencies,” President Trump wrote in the memo.

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The memo instructs the Labor Department to undertake a newanalysis of the rule to test its ultimate compatibility with thepriority of facilitating the country’s ability to save forretirement.

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Proponents of the fiduciary rule interpreted the Presidentialmemo and its priorities as being aligned with the intent and letterof the fiduciary rule.

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The memo also gave Labor specific directions to vet the rule’simplications on the cost of retirement advice and access to it.Some interpreted those instructions as being aligned withopponents’ criticisms of the rule.

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In spite of the continuing ambiguity, advisory firms have beenmoving ahead as quickly as they can under the assumption that therule will be implemented as written on April 10, knowing there is a“fair possibility” that it won’t be, said Sweeney.

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Employer plan sponsors have not had that option, said Sweeney.The rule’s implications on advice modules built into 401(k) planshave forced employers to hit the pause button until near-termclarity on the rule’s implementation date, and its ultimate impacton sponsors’ fiduciary obligations under ERISA, are more certain,said Sweeney.

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Related: See all BenefitsPRO Fiduciary Rulecoverage

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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.