For many in the financial services industry, dread became reality yesterday when the Department of Labor (DOL) introduced its much-discussed, much-anticipated fiduciary rule for agents who market retirement plans, setting the standard of service at “best interest” of the client rather than “suitable” for the client.
The rule makes all retirement investment advisers into fiduciaries, meaning they have to put their clients’ best interests first, over and above their own.
A White House statement read in part:
Today, the DOL is finalizing rules requiring retirement investment advisers to meet a ‘fiduciary’ standard—putting their clients’ best interest before their own profits. These reforms will save affected middle-class families tens of thousands of dollars in retirement savings over a lifetime of saving and level the playing field for the many financial advisers who are already doing right by their clients.
The rule, which will be phased in over eight months beginning in April 2017, is aimed at curbing excessive fees and commissions that enrich the agents but eat into the principal and growth of the retirement fund. The rule will mostly affect the marketing of IRAs since 401(k)s are handled by fiduciaries already.
The text of the “Conflict of Interest Rule” further explains:
The consequences are growing as baby boomers retire and move money from plans, where their employer has both the incentive and the fiduciary duty to facilitate sound investment choices, to IRAs, where both good and bad investment choices are more numerous and much advice is conflicted. These rollovers are expected to approach $2.4 trillion cumulatively from 2016 through 2020.
The rule becomes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, but its implementation doesn’t begin until April 10, 2017.