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Federal Roundup: Calm Before the Storm as Stakeholders Await the Final DOL Fiduciary Rule

As of the writing of this brief article in mid-March, the mood in Washington, D.C. and around the country is tense as the retirement industry waits for the release of the DOL’s final fiduciary rule. The rule is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget where it is likely to be rubber stamped and sent back to the DOL for publication. While the precise timing of the rule’s release is not clear, it could occur right before or right after the Congressional Easter break which starts March 24.

Most insiders believe that the DOL will make some changes, but many of the core onerous and unworkable provisions will likely remain. Therefore, efforts continue on the Hill where industry groups are pressuring Congress for a solution. Much focus is being placed on supporting H.R. 4293, H.R. 4294, S. 2502 and S. 2505.

These bills are a joint package of legislation that would create a new best interest standard for advisors, provide for a seller’s exception and require concise new disclosures among other provisions. NAFA has joined other insurance trade groups to endorse these bills and recently launched new grassroots efforts that have produced hundreds of letters to the Hill.

Once the rule is released, it is possible there will be a surge of congressional activity to pass legislation, and hopefully Members of Congress, who have been keeping their powder dry, will engage. Any legislation would likely face a veto threat, but Congress must keep up the pressure in any case.

In addition to legislation, it is reasonable to assume that there might be legal challenges to the rule that could add a new twist to the landscape. NAFA will continue to monitor for developments, and, once the rule is public, we will provide analysis of the impacts for our members.

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