We have to wonder if the Department of Labor is serious about considering real-world evaluations of its newly proposed fiduciary rule.
The rule and its amendments fill nearly 500 pages and would make significant changes to federal regulations that impact the way advisors do business and consumers receive financial services. Yet DOL provided only a 60-day comment period, which includes several holidays.
NAIFA has joined coalition partners in asking DOL to extend the comment period by at least 60 days followed by an additional 30-day comment period. "Considering that DOL has spent almost three years crafting the Proposed Rule, it strikes us that affording all interested stakeholders sufficient time to provide meaningful feedback would be in DOL’s interest," the request says.
Further complicating the brief comment period, DOL intends to hold a public hearing during the comment period. NAIFA will testify at the hearing and would need to have comments prepared before that testimony.
DOL has provided more reasonable comment periods following its earlier fiduciary proposals. The 2010 proposal, which the Department eventually withdrew, offered a 90-day comment period with a 14-day extension followed by a public meeting with its own 15-day comment period. The 2016 fiduciary rule had a 75-day comment period with a 15-day extension and a public hearing followed by an additional 15-day comment period. NAIFA and ACLI filed a lawsuit over the 2016 rule and a federal appeals court vacated it in 2018.
"DOL gives the impression that it is not really interested in receiving and considering thoughtful comments about this proposal that would radically change access and limit choice for retirement savers," said NAIFA CEO Kevin Mayeux, CAE. "NAIFA hopes that is not the case because the DOL could benefit from receiving detailed analysis of how this proposal is likely to impact American consumers."