NAIFA has not been sitting idle as the Department of Labor made moves to propose a new fiduciary rule. In anticipation of the rulemaking, NAIFA helped the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) draft a resolution that opposes the DOL's new fiduciary rule as unnecessary and likely harmful to consumers. The resolution, which NCOIL adopted in July after NAIFA testified at the Conference's 2023 Summer Meeting, states: "NCOIL urges the DOL to refrain from further rulemaking that would revive all or parts of the 2016 Fiduciary Rule" and "...urges state legislators and other interested stakeholders to join in opposition to any further rulemaking by DOL reviving the 2016 Fiduciary Rule."
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This afternoon, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) adopted a NAIFA-backed resolution that opposes potential fiduciary rulemaking by the Department of Labor (DOL).
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NAIFA strongly supports consumer protections provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) Regulation Best Interest and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC’s) revised annuity model regulation (adopted by 19 states and counting). Both of these provisions require financial professionals to work in their clients’ best interests and preserve the ability of consumers to choose who they work with and how they compensate advisors. Reg BI and the NAIC model also avoid problems with other proposals that would have made it very difficult for producers to continue working with Main Street investors.
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NAIFA strongly supports the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC's) Regulation Best Interest (REG BI) to protect investors and preserve the ability of financial advisors to serve the needs of Main Street USA consumers. The rule is in harmony with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC's) revised Annuity Suitability Model, which requires producers to work in the best interests of consumers during annuity transactions, providing enhanced investor protections at the federal and state levels and discouraging a mishmash of confusing and potentially contradictory laws and regulations.
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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized its new prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) for financial professionals who provide retirement plan advice. The PTE requires advisors to work in the best interests of their clients, receive reasonable compensation, and make no “materially misleading statements.” The PTE is effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The DOL exemption aligns with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest, and preserves opportunities and choices for workers and retirees seeking high-quality, personalized advice.
“NAIFA thinks the Department of Labor proposal – with the modifications in today’s final rule – will benefit retirement investors by preserving access to a wide variety investment advice professionals, products, and compensation arrangements,” said NAIFA CEO Kevin Mayeux. “The Department has struck the right balance between crafting a PTE with robust compliance obligations that serve the interests of investors, while avoiding an overly prescriptive approach or penalizing certain market segments or arrangements versus others.”
The DOL under the Obama administration initially issued a rule that would have imposed a restrictive fiduciary duty on financial professionals and hindered access of middle-market investors to retirement services and advice. NAIFA was among the organizations that filed a lawsuit resulting in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacating the rule in 2018.
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In an opinion published last Friday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the validity of the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest and rejected the challenge to the rule which had been filed last fall by a group of state attorneys general and several private financial firms. The court did not agree with the plaintiffs’ claim that the Dodd Frank Act required the SEC, if it chose to act, to adopt a standard of conduct for broker-dealers that paralleled the fiduciary standard applicable to investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act.
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In light of the disruptions to normal business operations brought about by efforts to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering a possible delay in the June 30, 2020 implementation/effective date for compliance with the Commission’s new Regulation Best Interest, which establishes a heightened “best interest” standard of care for broker-dealers and their registered representatives. (In a related matter, the SEC has changed the deadline for BD firms to file their Forms ADV from March 30, 2020 to June 30, 2020.) Although no final decision has been made, the topic has been discussed by SEC leadership. NAIFA has submitted a letter to the SEC requesting a reasonable delay in the Reg BI implementation/effective date, which you can review here.