Brokers around the country had a very positive reaction to the new version of the SEC’s Best Interest Rule which was approved last week. One of the reasons why, other than the generally light-touch direction of the regulation, is that the new rule seems to suggest that a broker can always be confident in putting money into an IRA when considering a rollover. However, the SEC has just warned brokers against this quick conclusion, saying they cannot short-circuit their analysis.
FINSUM: The way the new rule was structured seemed almost too good to be true for advisors as it appeared to heavily favor rollovers into IRAs. More analysis of the rule will be forthcoming over the next week.
It happened quickly, more quickly than almost anyone expected. The SEC redrafted its “Regulation best Interest” rule and put it to a vote yesterday, with the new version being approved by a 3-1 vote. The new version is a fairly large departure from the previous one, and went in the complete opposite direction versus expectations. Instead of tightening the rule to put more fiduciary duties on brokers, it did the opposite, eliminating language regarding best interests and seemingly watering down the current suitability standard itself. The vote against the rule came from the SEC’s only Democrat, who said “Rather than requiring Wall Street to put investors first, today's rules retain a muddled standard that exposes millions of Americans to the costs of conflicted advice. Even worse, contrary to what Americans have heard for a generation, the commission today concludes that investment advisors are not true fiduciaries. Today's actions fail to arm Americans with the tools they need to survive the nation's retirement crisis.”.
FINSUM: In addition to the changes mentioned above, it is also worth noting that the new rule significantly expanded the language regarding “solely incidental”, meaning many more brokers do not fall under the rule’s purview. Now it remains to be seen what the DOL does.
Independent or wirehouse? It is a big decision, especially because it not only means moving firms, but going from being an employee to running one’s own business. Well, to fill the void between those two possibilities, LPL has just launched a new program designed to let advisors half-breakaway. The program lets advisors be independent, but also employees. The new new offering is short on details but follows in the footsteps of Raymond James and Wells Fargo, both of whom have similar opportunities.
FINSUM: This seems like a good option if you are an advisor that wants more flexibility, but does not want the difficulty associated with running your own firm.
Given the relative dearth of information about the new DOL and SEC rules, analysis and true insight are hard to come by. However, today we have some interesting and relevant “talk” coming out of those close to the DOL. Evidently Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has de facto taken over the rulemaking processes at the DOL. The Trump administration was apparently unhappy with slow progress at the agency, so Mulvaney was put in charge of oversight and has ultimate say on all decisions. Mulvaney took over his chief of staff position in January and took on this role some time since. What this means is that the White House is now more directly in charge of the DOL than ever.
FINSUM: The rumor of this is from Financial Advisor IQ (which is quite reputable), and it completely makes sense given that the DOL suddenly came out with a concrete timeline for the new rule’s release (December). This seems encouraging for those that opposed the initial rule.
The SEC’s Best Interest rule has been making its way through the regulatory machine without much attention lately. Everyone knows it is looming, but no one has been sure of the timing or what the newest iteration would look like. Well, it is becoming clearer now as the SEC has announced that it will vote on whether to adopt the new rule on June 5th. There are four different items the SEC commission will discuss. Some of them are remnants from the last version, but others like the “solely incidental” item, are not clear.
FINSUM: It looks like we will be able to see the new version of the rule within a few weeks. The SEC was facing a major uphill battle to make the BI rule amenable to all sides, and we shall soon see how much progress they made (and how it might fit with a forthcoming DOL rule 2.0).
The dreaded moment is coming. The DOL has been hinting for some time that it would release a new version of its infamous fiduciary rule, but now we have a concrete timeline. The agency says the new rule will be released in December. It is unclear the extent to which this new rule will sync with the SEC’s best interest efforts, but most seem to think the two rules will dovetail nicely. This will be the third time the DOL has issued a fiduciary rule. The first time was in 2010, then again in 2015 (defeated last year).
FINSUM: No details on how this will look, so hard to speculate. However, given how expansive the rule was last time, we will not be surprised if there are some surprises here.