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Judy VanArsdale of Lakeview Wealth Management, an LPL Financial company

Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > DOL

A Top LPL Advisor and Advocate Talks Secure Act 2.0, DOL Fiduciary Rule

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The Department of Labor’s Obama-era fiduciary rule is dead — but not forgotten.

LPL Financial’s Government Relations Council chair, Judy VanArsdale, meets regularly with congresspeople and senators in Washington to talk about legislation that could affect clients and the industry, and the short-lived rule still comes up.

“Now there’s some conversation in Washington that [the rule] will be revisited. I think that will confuse things,” VanArsdale says in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

The advisor, who is on three of Forbes’ Best Advisor lists, including 2022’s Best-in-State Women Advisors, has just returned from an advocacy trip to Washington, where she met with members of committees that oversee the financial services industry.

Her most recent advocacy focus: boosting 401(k) catch-up contributions in the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022, known as Secure Act 2.0.

During the development of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 — the original Secure Act — she advocated for raising the required minimum distribution age.

VanArsdale’s foray into advocacy began when LPL asked her to testify in front of the House Ways and Means Oversight Committee at a 2015 hearing on the Labor Department’s proposed fiduciary rule. Issued in 2016, the rule was struck down two years later by a federal appeals court.

“The DOL wasn’t the right place for this [fiduciary rule] to stand,” says the head of LakeView Wealth Management, an independent advisory in Deer Park, Illinois. “I’m not in favor of the Department of Labor having their say in it.”

In the top 1% of LPL advisors (based on gross dealer concessions), her firm manages about $420 million in client assets. VanArsdale, whose broker-dealer has been LPL for nearly 20 years, previously was vice president of sales at pharmaceutical wholesaler McKesson Corp.

Her advocacy work has expanded the value proposition she promises clients, VanArsdale says. She shares her advocacy efforts with them at every review to stress how the firm is “looking out for their best interests,” she says.

ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed VanArsdale, who was speaking from her Deer Park office. Here are highlights of our interview:

THINKADVISOR: What is your advocacy work in Washington on behalf of LPL and the financial services industry?

JUDY VANARSDALE: I help raise money and teach other advisors why it’s important to be an advocate and why their voice matters. We meet with senators and congresspeople to talk about pieces of legislation that could impact our clients or the industry.

You do this work on a volunteer basis. Have you any political aspirations?

None whatsoever. The only reason I do this is because it’s about policy, not politics. Period.

It’s talking to [advisors] about using their voice and how important it is to spend time working on things in Washington and at the state level that are important to our clients and advisors. It’s about how we can help make changes that would be better for clients and our industry.

You recently returned from a trip to Washington. For what legislation were you advocating?

Secure 2.0 and continuing to raise the required minimum distribution age [from retirement accounts] from 72 to 75.

We were talking to senators and congresspeople about the new piece of legislation that Congressman Richard Neal [D-Mass.] and Congressman Kevin Brady [R-Texas] have proposed.

They co-sponsored the bipartisan [Secure Act], for which we advocated, where the minimum age was raised from 70 to 72, and there were some benefits for small-business owners to add a retirement plan for their employees.

Secure 2.0 has passed the House 414 votes to 5 and is now in the Senate.

Now we’re asking … to allow more money to be put into retirement plans after age 60.

What else have you advocated for?

Security and privacy. And independent contractor status; we’ve been very instrumental in trying to get all the participants of the LPL PAC and LPL advisors, and many others, to write letters to their senators and congresspeople to have the carve-out [IPO subsidiary divestiture] removed so [small businesses] can have the same tax benefits as others.

How did you get involved in advocacy work?

In 2015, I was asked to testify at a hearing in front of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight about the DOL [Department of Labor] fiduciary rule.

Were you in favor of it?

I’m not in favor of the Department of Labor having their say in it. We already have enough government bodies [establishing rules and regulations]: the SEC and FINRA. l feel the DOL wasn’t the right place for this to stand.

My testimony was very focused on everyone having a right to advice. But I do think there should be some guidance and rules about how we should do our job.

What are your thoughts about Regulation Best Interest, mandated by the SEC?

It’s fine. It just got put into practice. We need to make sure that we share with clients what the rules are, how they pay for their investments and how they are to be treated.

Now there’s some conversation in Washington that the DOL [fiduciary rule] might be revisited. I think that will confuse things.

When the original was put in place, it showed that it actually hurt people for getting advice and being able to have financial advisors help them. It divided people that weren’t making as much money [from those who made more]. There was research [about that concerning] the Hispanic population.

Does your Washington work help expand your value proposition as an advisor?

For a long time, I never shared it with my clients. I didn’t know if it would resonate. Then we sent them an email that gave a bit of an overview about the pieces of legislation that we worked on and the number of people we met with.

The response was fantastic; the clients felt we were looking out for their best interest. We turned it into a part of our everyday conversation so our clients feel as though they’re being listened to. They love to know that we’re [in Washington] to talk about things that matter to them.

In every client review, we talk about the stock market, the economy and advocacy efforts in Washington that could affect their taxes, money and investments.

Do you ever talk politics with your clients?

No, because they know we don’t go to Washington to talk about politics. We have a Republican lobbyist and a Democrat lobbyist. When I became the LPL Government Relations Council chair, it was really important to me that we have representation on both sides. I want to know what’s happening on both sides so that I can report back to our clients.

You have an all-woman team, including your daughter, Lisa VanArsdale, who is your business partner, and your sister, Heidi VanArsdale Little, an administrative assistant. Do you have many female clients?

Yes. We have a few more women, maybe, than men. We have a lot of married couples, a lot of single women.

When we looked back at everything we did in order to understand why a man would want a female financial advisor, [we found that] all our male clients want to make sure that a female that’s very important to them — a mother, a wife, a daughter — is feeling as safe and comfortable with their financial advisor as they are.

Why aren’t more women attracted to becoming financial advisors?

That’s starting to change. But back in the day [the business] was all commission-driven, and there were a lot of nighttime appointments.

Also, I don’t think anyone told [college] students that working as a financial advisor was a career path.

The old [traditional] firms recruited men. By the time I decided to find a new career, I wandered into this and never looked back. It’s a fantastic career for women.

Before becoming a financial advisor, you worked at McKesson Corp., a wholesale pharmaceutical company, for a number of years. What was your job?

I came up in sales. I started by calling on independent pharmacies. I got [several] promotions and [ultimately] became vice president of sales.

What’s one thing McKesson trained you in for sales presentations?

There was a lot of training. We had to practice a lot: how to make eye contact, how to use full sentences, how to make sure to stick with three bullet points — don’t overcomplicate things.

Did you become an independent financial advisor right away?

No. I started at an insurance company that had a financial planning arm. They had proprietary [products]. I figured out very quickly that I didn’t want to be captive; so I stayed there only briefly.

I didn’t want to sell something because it was directed. I wanted to make sure I got to help create the portfolio and find the right fit for each person based on their needs.

What’s the biggest challenge to financial advisors today?

The regulatory environment is pretty challenging right now. There are a lot of rules. One of the reasons I chose LPL [as my BD] is because they have a fantastic compliance department. I want to know I’m protected and have people looking out for my best interest so I can look out for my clients’ best interest.

I want a clear understanding of the rules so I can stay current and within the boundaries. There’s a lot going on right now.