The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration issued a temporary enforcement policy on Friday regarding its fiduciary rule.
In its Field Assistance Bulletin 2017-01, EBSA states that “although the department intends to issue a decision on the March 2 proposal in advance of the April 10 applicability date, financial services institutions have expressed concern about investor confusion and other marketplace disruption based on uncertainty about whether a final rule implementing any delay will be published before April 10, whether there may be a ‘gap’ period during which the fiduciary duty rule becomes applicable before a delay is published after April 10, or whether the department may decide either before or after April 10 not to issue a delay based on its evaluation of the public comments.”
EBSA states that while Labor believes it will issue a decision on the March 2 proposal before the April 10 applicability date, given concerns raised during the 15-day comment period regarding Labor’s proposed rule to extend for 60 days the applicability date of its fiduciary rule, Labor has determined that “temporary enforcement relief is appropriate to protect against investor confusion and related marketplace disruptions attributable to uncertainty regarding the timing of the department’s decision on whether to delay the applicability date of the fiduciary duty rule and related [prohibited transaction exemptions].”
While Labor expects the final regulation delaying the applicability date to be effective before April 10, if Labor fails to meet that deadline, it plans to help fiduciary advisors avoid problems because of the delay.
“We don’t think it [the bulletin] signals that there will not be a delay,” said Steve Saxon, chairman of Groom Law Group. “There needs to be a delay and I think there will be a delay.”