After the shock of the last rule and the relatively benign impact of the SEC’s Reg BI, most advisors are taking the new Fiduciary Rule from the DOL in stride. There has not been nearly the outpouring of upsettedness as the first time around. However, within the mostly mundane-seeming rule, there is some little-noticed language that could cause difficult issues, say compliance professionals. Specifically, in the preamble to the rule proposal, the DOL said it had changed how it interprets the old 1975 five-part test for fiduciary status. According to David Kaleda, principal, Groom Law Group, “So, this is another attempt by the DOL to state that, ‘Whatever you think advice may be, it may be more than that’ … Advisers and broker-dealers need to think about whether their day-to-day interactions are within the five-part test”.
FINSUM: This is another hidden surprise in this rule that could become much more complicated. It almost seems the DOL snuck some vague language into the current version of the rule in order to give themselves broader latitude for enforcement later on. This makes sense too, as it was the same approach the SEC used with Reg BI. Vague language makes it harder to find loopholes.