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August 13, 2015

DOL Hearing Day 4 Summary: Strong Support – Including from Some in the Industry – for DOL Rule

The key takeaways from day four of the unprecedented four-day public hearing at the Department of Labor (DOL) to discuss its proposed best interest fiduciary rule:

There is widespread support for DOL’s rule, including from many in the industry, who understand this a strong proposal that’s necessary to protect Americans’ retirement security.

“Current laws allow advisers to act with enormous conflicts of interest…the proposed rule is workable…and will make unconflicted advice increasingly cost effective.” – Christopher Jones, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, Financial Engines.

“With all due respect, the market is categorically not working. There is not true awareness of the multilayer fees…our clients come over from brokerage relationships…83% have no idea of second layer fees.” – Scott Puritz, Managing Director, Rebalance IRA.

More strong support for the rule throughout this week’s hearing:

 “At this point in the debate, it is settled that gaps in the DOL’s 40-year old rule have created a flawed system, one that allows advisers to put their own interests ahead of their clients,” testified Stephen Hall, Securities Specialist at Better Markets. “It is also settled that workers and retirees are suffering terrible losses as a result.”

“The allure of higher compensation nearly always wins, to the detriment of the consumer.” – Ron Rhoades, Program Director, Assistant Professor of Finance, Western Kentucky University

“The time is long past to ensure that advice provided to those who spend a lifetime working to save and invest for a secure retirement is in their sole interest.” – David Certner, AARP

“…a status quo that has been largely beneficial for [industry] and not for working families.”– Barbara Roper, Consumer Federation of America

“The financial industry is very adaptable and it will make it work especially when its $14 trillion.”– V. Raymond Ferrara, Chairman and CEO, ProVise Management Group LLC

 “These retirees break down in my office when I explain to them how their investment was lost to conflicted advice…Swift action to confirm a strong fiduciary duty will help prevent this from happening to any other retirees in the future and ensure that, if it does happen, that brokers and brokerage firms that breach this duty will be held accountable.” – Joseph Peiffer, President, Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA).

“Those most affected by heavier prices are those with more modest means…the status quo permits trusted advisers to profit at their client’s expense.” – Sheryl Garrett, Garrett Planning Network.  

 “Competition in a market where investors can’t distinguish the quality of the advice leads to a race to the bottom.” – Antoinette Schoar, Professor of Finance, MIT Sloan School of Management.

“[In one] study people who didn’t have advice did better than people who relied on brokers.” – Jonathan Reuter, Associate Professor of Finance, Carroll School of Management, Boston College.

“While a fiduciary standard would require market adjustments, giving conflict-free retirement advice is not unworkable. Thirty million investors are currently served by registered investment advisers who manage $67 trillion under a legal obligation to serve the best interest of their clients. And, increasingly, firms are using technology to offer advice under a fiduciary standard at a fraction of the cost of the conflicted advice available today.” – Joe Valenti, Director of Consumer Finance, Center for American Progress

We believe the Department has hit the ‘sweet spot’ with this proposal – finding a middle ground that protects retirement investors while also accommodating the reasonable and legitimate concerns of the financial industry.” – Maria Freese, Senior Policy Advisor, Pension Rights Center

“Some financial industry representatives claim these exemptions are unworkable.  Here again, what they seem to be saying is it would be unworkable to provide advice that is in the best interests of their clients.” – Richard G. Thissen, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association

“The Department of Labor must not weaken or reverse this rule in the face of criticism by those who profit from conflicted financial advice.” – Marcus Stanley, Policy Director, Americans for Financial Reform

“The DOL proposal is workable, it is doable, and by the way, it is profitable.” – Kate McBride, Chair, Committee for the Fiduciary Standard

Nothing from this week’s hearing has changed the fact that the DOL has all the information and feedback it needs to move forward quickly to finalize this rule to give workers and retirees the unbiased and conflict-free advice they need to enjoy a secure retirement.

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