Just when it finally felt like it was gone, the fiduciary rule appears to be back from the dead. Not only is the DOL working on a new version to be debuted in 2019, but it is reportedly enforcing the current version intensely. According to ThinkAdvisor, “attorneys with Drinker, Biddle and Reath report that both the Labor Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are leveraging enforcement initiatives at a historic level of tenacity”. Fred Reish, top industry lawyer concurred, saying “Now that the fiduciary rule has been terminated, I think the focus at DOL is more on enforcement”. In terms of how the DOL is opening up investigations, a partner at Drinker, Biddle & Reath says that “They start with ‘hello, we are the DOL, show us how you do ERISA,’ and from there take a very broad based approach”.
FINSUM: We are confused by what is going on at the DOL. Following Trump’s appointment of the new chief at the DOL there seemed to be a hands-off approach being adopted (e.g. not pushing the rule further in court). Now everything seems to have reversed. Stay tuned.