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LPL, Charles Schwab and Ameriprise Boosted Campaign Spending in the Lead-up to the DOL Rule

January 8, 2019

Several large broker-dealers and RIA custodians significantly boosted their campaign donations during the time the industry was challenging the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, according to news reports.

The Obama-era rule, which purported to require retirement account advisors to put their clients' interests first, went into only partial effect in 2017 and was eventually vacated by an appeals court last spring.

Several firms, meanwhile, increased their campaign spending from the 2014 campaign cycle, which covers spending from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2014, to the 2018 cycle, for which the Federal Election Commission has statistics covering spending from Jan. 1, 2017 to Nov. 26, 2018, InvestmentNews writes.

LPL Financial almost tripled its spending, Charles Schwab more than doubled its spending and Ameriprise Financial almost doubled its spending, according to the publication.

In 2016, LPL also opened a dedicated lobbying office, InvestmentNews writes.

A spokesman for LPL tells the publication LPL is “proud” it grew its presence in Washington, D.C., during the past four years to better represent the company, its advisors and its clients.

A Schwab spokesman didn’t return InvestmentNews’ calls for comment and an Ameriprise spokesman declined comment to the publication.

Many in the securities industry were opposed to the DOL’s rule, claiming it would raise compliance costs and exposure to lawsuits, and several industry trade groups maximized campaign donations in 2017 for Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., who led legislation to kill the rule, according to the publication.

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Not all large brokerages, however, increased spending to such an extent during that period, InvestmentNews writes.

Morgan Stanley’s political action committee increased its spending by 31% during that time, to around $1.1 million, while Edward Jones’ PAC decreased its spending from $187,000 to $164,000, according to the publication.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the InvestmentNews article cited in this story, click here.