Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Wednesday his committee would consider holding a hearing on the Department of Labor’s redraft of its rule to amend the definition of fiduciary on retirement accounts. He also said he would be “reluctant” to support a user-fees bill to boost the number of advisor exams.
“We’ll look at it,” Shelby told reporters after his remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Capital Markets Summit, when asked if his committee would hold a hearing on DOL’s plan to amend the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
The same day, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced that he would push for a state law requiring financial advisors to disclose whether they put their own financial interests above those of their clients. He also released a new report examining the history of the fiduciary standard and voiced his support for enacting a fiduciary standard nationwide.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, in comments at the Capital Markets Summit in Washington on Wednesday, said the DOL fiduciary redraft will be released “in the not-too-distant future.”
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As to whether brokers should be held to a fiduciary standard, Shelby told reporters that “if someone is handling my money, they have a relationship of trust, fiduciary duty.” He questioned whether such a duty could “be defined by regulation or statute or should that just be a relationship. That’s part of the debate.”
Shelby was clear, however, on what he would not support: a bill allowing the Securities and Exchange Commission to collect user fees from advisors to help boost the number of advisor exams. “I’d be reluctant to support” any user-fee legislation, Shelby told reporters, stating that user fees have been a “form of attack.”
The Senate Banking Committee, Shelby said, will “mainly” focus this year on Dodd-Frank, and reining in ”some of the areas that we think are unnecessary, onerous,” as well as looking at whether the Federal Reserve should be “audited.”
SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said March 17 at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Legal and Compliance Seminar that she supports the agency pressing ahead with a fiduciary rulemaking, and that the agency also needs “to move to a program of third-party compliance exams for advisors.”
White told members of the House Financial Services Committee Tuesday that while third-party exams are “not an optimal place to go,” the agency needs to “complement” its advisor exams.