The Department of Labor plans to provide a “fair measure” of guidance on its rule to amend the definition of fiduciary on retirement advice and is eager to hear from advisors and stakeholders about their concerns, Timothy Hauser of DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration said Tuesday.
“Any problems you’re wrestling with we’d love to hear from you,” said Hauser, EBSA’s deputy assistant secretary for program operations and one of the main architects of DOL’s conflicts of interest rule. “I’d much rather give advice out early then to have you build systems and then we say, ‘they don’t comply.’”
Hauser spoke Tuesday at the Investment Company Institute’s conference in Washington on assessing the policy and practical challenges of DOL’s rule.
Hauser said that while “a lot of issues and concerns” have been raised, “people aren’t ready to give us specific questions.” He told reporters after his remarks that the responses from advisors and stakeholders about the final rule “have been muted,” with the main concern voiced is “they need more time” to comply.
When asked on the sidelines of the conference in his talk with reporters if the compliance date would be extended, Hauser replied: “Never say never,” but firms and advisors and others need to comply under the current timeline.
“If we had all the answers right now, we couldn’t get it done by Jan. 2018,” said Anthony Palermo, vice president and senior operations relationship manager at American Funds.
The fiduciary rule itself becomes effective April 10, 2017, Hauser said, with “the full conditions of the exemptions” in effect in January 2018.
Hauser said that he expects DOL to issue Q&A guidance on a “rolling basis,” as it’s the “most efficient” means. However, he noted that DOL would like to hear from “a fair number of people” about their concerns before issuing such guidance. “I’d encourage you to reach out. You can call or write, it doesn’t have to be formal.”
As to enforcing the rule, Hauser said that in the “near term, which I would view extending to January 2018, the goal is to assist and facilitate compliance” with the rule, “not finding litigation targets.”