Wealth Management


In what comes as a surprise, the new iteration of the DOL rule may in fact be multiple rules bundled into a package. A lawyer from well-respected industry law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath says they have credible rumors that there will be multiple new rules, and that they will be friendly for those in the industry. The firm says that the new rules will likely be based on the old 1975 five-part test, and that the Best Interest Contract Exemption will be replaced. The new DOL package is also supposed to harmonize well with the SEC’s new Best Interest rule, which was approved in June.

FINSUM: It is good news that this rule is supposed to be more friendly to those in the industry, but it is worrying that there may be multiple rules. The more components there are to the rule, the more likely it will be that it is unclear.

(New York)

Is it a huge deal or not? No one seems to be able to decide. The issue at hand is that the new SEC Best Interest rule explicitly requires brokers to consider costs when recommending products to clients. That is potentially a very big change. However, some say brokers have already been doing this as part of suitability rules, so it may not change practices much. It is important to note that brokers do not need to recommend the cheapest product to clients, but they must take cost into consideration.

FINSUM: Considered in a vacuum, taking cost into consideration has long been a no-brainer. The bigger question is how the SEC decides to enforce this standard. Hindsight will always be 20-20 in an investigation and this could be a big disadvantage to brokers.

(New York)

Annuities have come a long way in the last few years, with industry standards and selling behavior becoming much cleaner. However, annuities sales are still a challenge because it is often hard to get an individual to trade a large, liquid lump sum for payments that can often be far in the future. With that said, TIAA has an annuity it debuted last year that might prove quite helpful. The provider’s Income Test Drive program allows buyers of annuities to opt out of their income agreements within two years without any penalty. The program is part of a wider trend in annuities, according a product manager in the space, saying “They used to have one product try to be everything to everybody, and the costs outweighed the benefits. Now there are more streamlined options”.

FINSUM: This TIAA option seems like a very good way to help investors bridge their anxiety about trading a lump sum for future income.

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