Security concerns surrounding Pope Francis’ visit to Washington extended even to the Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule proposal.
The deadline for submitting hand-delivered comments to the DOL on the fiduciary rule was moved up by 24 hours because access to the department’s building was closed during the pope’s stay in Washington, according to a statement on the DOL’s website.
The deadline for submitting comments to the DOL regarding its proposed conflict of interest rule is 11:59 p.m. today. The deadline for submitting hand-delivered comments was 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Advisors, representatives of trade organizations and anyone interested in making their voices heard on the proposed rules should email the DOL at [email protected] and include RIN 1210-AB32 in the subject line of the message.
Instructions for submitting comments online may be found by logging onto the federal electronic rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
Thursday’s deadline ends a two-week comment period, the second of two written comment periods that began in the spring with the publication of proposed rules designed to quash conflicts of interests affecting advice to retirement investors.
DOL’s proposals seek to impose a fiduciary standard of care on financial advisors.
Regulators, public interest groups and labor unions support the rules However, thousands of advisors, many of whom already follow a fiduciary standard of care, in addition to thousands of industry proponents, insist the rules are unworkable and will raise costs.
Advisors will leave smaller unprofitable accounts and stick with wealthier clients that allow advisors to make a better living, opponents of the rule say.
Republican lawmakers oppose the proposal and a number House Democrats — as many as 90 Democratic lawmakers — are calling on the DOL to make “improvements” to the draft rule which will affect nearly all aspects of financial services distribution with regard to retirement accounts.
Sellers of variable annuities, for example, will be affected to a much greater degree than sellers of fixed annuities.
The final two-week comment period ending tomorrow (Thursday) follows days of public hearings in August during which regulators heard hours of testimony for and against the proposed rule. The proposal would impose some of the most far-reaching changes to financial advisor requirements since the passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974.
Industry lobbyists have spent hours in public and private meetings in an attempt to sway DOL regulators before the department begins to hammer out a final version of the rule.
Regulators appear ready to accommodate at least some of the industry’s concerns, but how far the DOL is willing to yield will have to wait until sometime in the first half of next year when the agency publishes its final ruling.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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