Wealth Management

(Washington)

The Trump administration has slowly but surely exerted its influence on the SEC. After two and half years, the changes are reaching their zenith. The last Democrat at the SEC is set to step down later this year. He is technically entitled to stay through June 2020, but is likely to leave before the autumn, when he is set head back to academia. The departure will open the door to a more conservative appointment. It would also mean there are only three commissioners left at the SEC, two of whom are Republicans, giving them an advantage in SEC matters.


FINSUM: This could have all sorts of ramifications for policy, including the best interest rule. We expect this may have some significant impacts on the the BI rule plays out.

(New York)

Most of the industry was hoping that states would back off, or at least slow down, their fiduciary rule efforts after the SEC announced it was working alongside them to craft a more comprehensive Best Interest Rule. The idea is that if the SEC could create a rule satisfactory to states, then it would obviate individual state regulations. However, New Jersey is pressing ahead with its own rule. The state formally put forward a new rule yesterday via the Attorney General Burbir Grewal. The rule is comprehensive and advisors would have serious penalties for not abiding. “Conduct falling short of this fiduciary duty would, under the proposed rule, constitute a dishonest and unethical practice,” says an announcement for the state’s Consumer Affairs Division.


FINSUM: We are still hoping the SEC can make a rule that satisfies states, because the last thing consumers or advisors need is fragmentation.

(New York)

A year ago, annuities looked like a product that had outlived its regulatory life cycle. The pending DOL fiduciary rule seemed completely incompatible with the product and its selling practices, so annuities appeared likely to take a big hit. Then the rule got shot down in court, and the whole picture changed. Data is now in on 2018 annuity sales and it looks strong—sales smashed all previous records. In virtually every category of annuities, sales were up considerably, in many case 20% or more.


FINSUM: The annuity sales outlook has completely changed. The next five years—as the number of people 65 or older hits 60 million—looks to be very strong.

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