Advisors and industry groups who want to comment on the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed fiduciary rule, also known as the conflict of interest rule, have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, to submit written comments.
Advisors, trade organizations and others who are interested in making their voices heard on the proposed rules should email the DOL at e-ORI@dol.gov and include RIN 1210-AB31 in the subject line of the message, the DOL said.
Instructions for submitting comments also may be found by logging onto the federal electronic rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
For mail or delivery by hand or courier, address letters and envelopes to the Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Attn.: Conflict of Interest Rule, Room N-5655, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20210.
As of Thursday afternoon, the DOL had listed comments from 180 individuals or organizations on its webpage.
In addition, petitions from the AARP, financial professionals, New York Life and Public Citizen had collected more than 55,000 individual comments.
Comments have come from life and annuity insurers, as well as banking trade groups and many individual financial advisors. Comments range from five words (“I support this change”) to multiple pages describing objections to the proposed changes.
Several members of Congress also have weighed in on the proposed rule change.
In April, the DOL proposed new conflict of interest rules and six proposed prohibited transaction exemptions governing advice provided regarding qualified retirement employer-sponsored plans and individual retirement accounts.
DOL officials and public interest groups say the proposed rules, which would impose a fiduciary standard of care on financial advisors dealing with retirement accounts, are necessary to protect retirement investors.
Advisors, who are already required to meet a suitability standard of care and many of whom follow a fiduciary standard, say the rules are unworkable, will raise costs and shrink the supply of advisors as they reposition themselves away from Main Street retirement investors and toward wealthier clients.
A disclosure requirement within the proposed rule, for example, would have advisors sign a contract with a prospect before the prospect becomes a client.
DOL officials say they are open to changes to the proposed expansion of the fiduciary standard, changes that are some of the most far-reaching since passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in 1974
The comment period ending at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday already had been extended by two weeks from its original deadline of July 6 following heavy lobbying from industry groups. The initial comment period on the proposal will have lasted 90 days instead of the usual 75.
Public hearings on the proposed rule are scheduled for Aug. 10, 11 and 12, and will continue through Aug. 13 if necessary. The hearings begin at 9 a.m. EDT each day in the Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Auditorium of the U.S. Department of Labor.
People who wish to testify at the next month’s hearing should email e-ORI@dol.gov and include the phrase “Conflict of Interest Rule Hearing” in the subject line.
The DOL also will accept requests by mail at: Office of Regulations and Interpretations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Attn.: Conflict of Interest Rule Hearing, Room N-5655, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20210.
Requests to testify must be received by 5 p.m. EDT, Friday, July 24, the DOL said.
The DOL could solicit a second round of written comments in the fall following the August public hearings.
It is the second time the DOL has solicited input on a proposed fiduciary rule governing retirement plans. A similar initiative was retracted four years ago after stiff industry opposition.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.
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