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.