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Thursday, July 23, 2015

515 Fiduciary Reg Comments and Counting

News summary by MFWire's editors

The first stage of the fiduciary regulation fight is over. On Tuesday, as expected, the folks at the Department of Labor closed the extended comment filing period on the proposed changes to the fiduciary standard. So far the DoL staff have posted 515 comments on the main "conflict of interest proposed rule," along with another 69 on the companion exemption proposals.

Expect to hear more from the industry when the DoL holds hearing on the matter next month. In the meantime, you can read the comments that the DoL has already posted here, which will be updated as they post more comments filed over the past few days.

Here's what some of the big industry players are saying:

The BlackRock folks take note of the DoL's "apparent preference for low cost and index or index-based product" and argues that such a preference does not take into account all factors necessary to make a sound investment. They go on to say that the proposal "will make it more difficult for small employers and individuals to set up and maintain Plans and receive the advice they need to optimize their retirement savings." This coming from the biggest ETF provider in the world, with the vast majority of its ETF assets being passive of course.

The Vanguard crew summarize their view by arguing that the definition of investment advice is "overly broad," that only individualized communications be counted as advice, that additional carve outs should be "broadened and clarified," and that the DoL "should reserve the status of valuations as investment advice for a future rule making."

The Fidelity team echoed their fellow fundsters and went on to add that best interest contract exemptions would be “extremely burdensome, costly and in some cases unworkable,” according to the Wall Street Journal, and that the idea should be removed from the DoL's proposal.

Meanwhile, our sister publication 401kWire has exclusive commentary from two giant recordkeepers' chiefs, Voya's Charlie Nelson and Empower's Ed Murphy, on what's wrong with the DoL proposal and what should be done to fix it.  

Edited by: Max Viscio


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