The chief executive officer of the Financial Planning Association told the Department of Labor today that 60 days is not enough time for advisors to comply with the department’s proposed fiduciary rule.
Patrick Mahoney, the Denver-based association’s CEO, made the comments during the second day of a two-day online hearing held by DOL officials.
The proposed rule would layer fiduciary standards on advisors—and, for the first time, insurance agents—offering retirement plan and IRA rollover advice to investors. Critics said this would create burdens for many advisors.
Many FPA members are dually registered as both broker/reps with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and as SEC-registered investment advisors, and they carry multiple licenses to meet their clients’ needs. As a result, they would “require significantly more time to review and fully understand any final rule proposal, which must be considered in light of all other existing regulatory obligations at play in our industry,” Mahoney said in the hearing.
(The text of the proposed “Retirement Security Rule” can be found here.)
The proposal also gives advisors only two months to implement changes, which Mahoney said “is simply not enough time for those who might, for example, need to review and rewrite policies and procedures or update their disclosure documents and client agreements—especially if they are small businesses or single-planner operators who lack in-house counsel and have significantly fewer resources to help them understand new requirements and come into compliance.”
He urged the DOL to consider an extension of the 60-day effective date and requested a commitment from the agency to implement any final proposal using a phase-in approach that stresses advisor education rather than “punitive” enforcement.
“For the regulated community to be successful in complying with any new requirements and changes to their regulatory obligations, there must first be clarity and mutual industry-wide understanding of the proposal—as well as sufficient time to implement any necessary changes,” Mahoney said.
He also asked the department to provide more details and clarity about how compliance with existing fiduciary standards and best interest obligations already in place under other agencies’ regulatory schemes will or will not ensure that advisors are acting within the bounds of the DOL’s fiduciary rule.
“While the department mentions many times its effort to harmonize the proposed rule with existing industry regulations, it remains unclear how these competing frameworks will interact in practice,” Mahoney said.