DOL Removes Fiduciary Rule Consumer Guidance
Following its proposal to delay the rollout of the fiduciary rule the Department of Labor has removed guidance intended for consumers to understand the rule’s implications, InvestmentNews writes.
Released in January in the form of frequently-asked questions, the guidance for consumers included suggestions for investors to ask advisors to understand whether they’re fiduciaries. The consumer-oriented guidance came out along with a second set of FAQs for advisors covering technical aspects of the rule, which requires retirement brokers to put clients’ interests first and was scheduled to go into effect next month. Both sets of the advisor-oriented FAQs are still available on the website, according to InvestmentNews. A spokesman for the DOL didn’t return the publication’s requests for comment on why the consumer guidance had been removed.
But removing such “informal guidance” doesn’t require any extensive regulatory approval, Douglas Dahl, an employee benefits lawyer at Bass, Berry & Sims, tells InvestmentNews. He also tells the publication that it’s “hard to know” the DOL’s reasons for doing so.
Charles Humphrey, a lawyer who had previously worked for the DOL and the IRS, also tells the publication that the DOL can take down such guidance as it pleases. He adds that the consumer FAQs were the DOL’s “last attempt” to bring retirement investors’ attention to the fiduciary standard before President Donald Trump took office January 20, according to the publication.
InvestmentNews notes that the consumer guidance can still be viewed on other sites that republished it.
Last week the DOL proposed a 60-day delay of the rule and another public comment period, following a presidential memorandum from Trump directing the agency to review it. The rule has faced opposition from Republican lawmakers and legal challenges from several industry groups seeking a delay or an outright repeal.