Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Monday that the Labor Department hopes its rule to change the definition of fiduciary on retirement advice will “reach a conclusion in the coming months,” and that the Obama administration is set to include additional measures to help workers save in the fiscal 2017 budget, to be released Feb. 9.
On a Monday evening call with reporters, White House National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zients noted that as President Barack Obama said during his State of the Union address, his administration has been promoting retirement savings in two ways: protecting consumers and promoting access.
DOL’s fiduciary — or conflict of interest — rule is intended to allow workers to “get retirement advice that’s truly in their best interest,” Zients said.
Zients also noted DOL’s plan to boost workers’ access to retirement plans through state-run retirement programs as well as the launch of the administration’s myRA in November.
Perez said the new proposals to be pitched in the fiscal 2017 budget include “working with Congress” on ways to make it easier for employers to join multiple employer plans (MEPs) as well as an auto-IRA proposal.
Not everyone is enamored of auto-IRA proposals, at least on the state level. In a briefing with reporters Tuesday morning at FSI’s OneVoice conference in Orlando, David Bellaire, the independent broker-dealer advocacy group’s executive vice president and general counsel, said that while FSI “supports connecting” workers with retirement plans, it opposes auto-IRAs, such as have been proposed in Illinois, New Jersey, Maine and other states. Bellaire said auto-IRAs, in which workers who do not have employer-sponsored retirement plans are forced into state-run plans, present “issues for the states,” but FSI is focused on the role of advisors. “You need financial advisors to help workers plan” for their retirement, Bellaire said.
As to DOL’s conflict of interest rule, Perez said on the call that DOL is “neck-deep in the review” of the comments that flooded in during the lengthy comment period and via the hearings, and that DOL hopes the rule will “reach a conclusion” in the coming months.