Many industry watchers saw it as (yet another) move to delay and/or possibly replace the controversial regulation before it’s January date for full implementation.
The department diplomatically described the fiduciary RFI as an opportunity for the public “to provide data and information that may be used to revise the rule and associated exemptions.”
“This Request for Information specifically seeks public input that could form the basis of new exemptions or changes/revisions to the rule and Prohibited Transaction Exemptions, and input regarding the advisability of extending the January 1, 2018, applicability date [emphasis ours] of certain provisions in the Best Interest Contract Exemption, the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries and Employee Benefit Plans and IRAs …,” according to the announcement.
It added that its comment periods will last for 15 days regarding extending the Jan. 1, 2018 applicability date of certain aspects, and 30 days for all other issues raised in the RFI.
The RFI was signed by well-known conference circuit speaker Timothy Hauser, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Operations with the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Unsurprisingly, the rule’s supporters were critical of the move.
“Donald Trump’s Labor Department published a Request for Information(RFI) that makes it clear that their loyalties lie with Wall Street, not America’s retirement savers,” the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said in a statement. “In other words, DOL is searching for justification to delay full implementation of the current rule and propose a new, weaker rule. This is harmful, unnecessary, and a colossal waste of taxpayer money.”