President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order telling the Department of Labor to halt implementation of its fiduciary rule, which is set to take effect April 10. Another executive order that was signed will roll back the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
ThinkAdvisor first reported Trump’s coming order to halt the fiduciary rule’s implementation on Tuesday.
In the directive, signed at 1:18 p.m. on Friday, Trump ordered the DOL to review and defer implementation of its fiduciary rule. He signed the order with Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., saying she was a “a special person” who had been “working on this for a long time.”
White House National Economic Council Advisor Gary Cohn said on CNBC that he doesn’t “think you protect investors by limiting choices; you need to give them [investors] the proper sources to accumulate wealth.”
The order on Dodd-Frank will direct the Treasury secretary to examine what can be done on the executive side regarding curtailing the law as well as the Volcker Rule, according to published reports.
Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Friday that the Chamber is pleased Trump took action to halt the rule as it “would have made it more difficult for Americans to save for their futures.” He added that the “flawed fiduciary rule’s rushed implementation would have jeopardized access to retirement advice and choice while its severe consequences and compliance burdens would have made it harder for small businesses to offer retirement plans.”
DOL’s “accelerated implementation deadline,” he continued, “was driven by political motives rather than practical reality.” The Chamber, he said, looks forward to “swift action” from DOL in putting this delay into effect and re-evaluating matters of policy and law.”
The Chamber is among the plaintiffs, including the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Financial Services Institute, that sued the DOL over its fiduciary rule in a Texas court. Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn, the judge presiding over the Texas case, said Wednesday that she would issue a ruling by Feb. 10.
Dale Brown, FSI president and CEO, remarked in a Friday statement that FSI “applauds the president’s action, which will delay a rule with devastating consequences for so many people,” adding that FSI “stands ready to work with the president and his administration to put in place a uniform fiduciary standard that protects investors, while not denying quality, affordable financial advice to those who need it most.”
Supporters of DOL’s rule were quick to weigh in as well.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., released on Friday a 2017 version of her Villas, Castles and Vacations report detailing “kickbacks” retirement advisors get. The Labor Department’s Conflict of Interest Rule “will end the kinds of kickbacks and incentives that put families’ retirement savings at risk,”Warren said. “The DOL rule protects consumers and creates a level playing field in the market for financial advisors who want to do right by their clients. Instead of doing favors for the big bank CEOs he invited to the West Wing this morning, President Trump should stand with working families by protecting this critical rule.”
Skip Schweiss, head of advisory advocacy at TD Ameritrade Institutional, told ThinkAdvisor from the national LINC conference in San Diego that “broker-dealers have spent almost ten months of the twelve-month compliance window preparing for this rule. They have each chosen their own path — some doing away with commissions in IRA accounts, some not — and so this last-minute uncertainty is likely to be challenging.”
RIAs, he added, “have been putting their clients’ best interests first since 1940, so the DOL rule is not nearly as disruptive for them as it is for some of their competitors. If the rule is delayed, revised or repealed, RIAs can continue to enjoy that fiduciary distinction in a marketplace where investors are growing more aware of that distinction than they’ve been in the past.”
Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America, said that “the overwhelming evidence is that the rule is not only workable, but working as intended to eliminate toxic incentives that encourage and reward harmful advice while preserving access to advice.”
She added: “Instead of standing up to Wall Street, President Trump is letting loose the wolves of Wall Street to prey on vulnerable retirement savers.”
— Check out Why Advisors Should Act Like Fiduciaries With or Without DOL Rule on ThinkAdvisor.