The DOL regulation attempts to "level the playing field" for everyday investors who hold some $12 trillion in IRA and 401(k) plans when it comes to their dealings with financial advisers.
This is the first major update to the regulations of retirement advice since 1975, when the Employee Retirement Income Security Act was enacted to protect investors in private pension plans.
A large number of financial-industry companies, including Wall Street banks with brokerages, mutual fund companies, and thousands of independent brokers and financial planners, spent over five years fighting this rule.
And, ultimately, the DOL reportedly made some concessions from an earlier proposal in favor of the industry.
According to Wealthmanagement.com's Diana Britton and David Armstrong, the DOL "tweaked the final version to 'minimize' the compliance burden on firms and throw open the window to allow for a broader range of investments, including non-traded REITs and variable annuities, as long as advisers guarantee they are putting their client's interests ahead of their own."
"We have reviewed the Department of Labor (DOL) fact sheet on the rule and it appears the DOL has addressed many of the concerns that were raised during the comment period," TD Ameritrade's Skip Schweiss, who was named Fiduciary of the Year in 2015 by the Committee for the Fiduciary Standard, wrote in an email to Business Insider on Wednesday before the new rule was unveiled.
Some folks immediately suggested that the new rule didn't do as much as it could have:
Once they started calling it "streamlined", you knew it was over. https://t.co/QFGExyAUzs— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) April 6, 2016
Meanwhile, others pointed out some of the positives from the new rule:
HUGE positive change in final DoL rule for RIAs - a "level-to-level" exemption that avoids being subject to best interests contract!— MichaelKitces (@MichaelKitces) April 6, 2016
LPL Financial and some other firms that manage money for individuals jumped after the rule was unveiled. LPL was up by as much as 9.9% after the announcement crossed, but it was up 6.5% as of 1:20 p.m. ET.
The Obama administration argues that the new fiduciary rule will save middle-class families billions of dollars every year.
The administration previously estimated that retirement advice from conflicted financial advisers costs American middle class families about $17 billion a year and decreases annual returns on retirement savings by 1 percentage point. Those in the financial industry have disputed these figures.
Notably, there have been some key political opponents to the fiduciary rule. House Speaker Paul Ryan slammed the rule in his official blog back in March, arguing that the rule would disproportionately hurt low-income people.
The rule "creates more paperwork and costly record-keeping requirements for financial planners, restricting access to quality investment advice for upwards of 7 million Americans with IRAs," he wrote in the post about the previously proposed version of the rule. And it "results in higher costs for people seeking financial advice, disproportionately hurting families with smaller bank accounts."
In any case, the implementation of the rule will be introduced over time. The full requirements will go into effect January 1, 2018.
"With the finalization of this rule, we are putting in place a fundamental protection into the American retirement landscape," Perez told reporters on Tuesday afternoon, according to ThinkAdvisor's Melanie Waddell. "A consumer’s best interest must now come before an adviser's financial interest. This is a huge win for the middle class."
"Today's rule ensures that putting clients first is no longer a marketing slogan. It's the law," he added.
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