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March 21, 2017

Protecting a Safe and Secure Retirement: 5 Questions for Labor Secretary Nominee Alex Acosta

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Contact: Nick Jacobs, 202-618-6430 or

Washington, D.C. – With the fate of the Department of Labor’s “Best Interest” Fiduciary Rule hanging in the balance and with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee about to convene the confirmation hearing for Labor Secretary nominee Alex Acosta, we think Mr. Acosta should provide answers to these questions:

1. Retirement savers lose at least $17 billion a year, according to the DOL’s own analysis, due to conflicted advice from their advisers. Yet on February 27th, the DOL issued a proposal that would delay the applicability date of the rule for at least 60 days. Every day that this rule is pushed back, countless hardworking Americans will needlessly lose millions of dollars of their retirement savings to their advisers. What would you say to those investors?

2. Three separate federal district courts have carefully evaluated the rule and rejected every single argument made against it. And two of those courts specifically held that the rule should not be delayed while the litigation plays out, in part because too many investors would suffer harm.   Have you read those opinions?  Don’t these opinions cast grave doubt on the wisdom of the DOL’s recent effort to delay the rule?

3. Opponents have argued it is the SEC’s job, not the DOL’s, to issue this rule.  Are you aware that ERISA and the securities laws are two entirely different statutes, governed by different agencies?  Are you aware that the SEC’s jurisdiction doesn’t cover any non-securities investments that advisers often sell to their clients, like insurance products?  Are you aware that former SEC Chair Mary Jo White testified that the DOL has a statutory mandate separate from the SEC and that the fiduciary rule fell under DOL’s authority?

4.  Doctors and lawyers have a legal obligation to do what is in the best interest of their patients and clients because people need to rely on them for complex decisions that make a huge difference in their lives.   Why is the work of financial advisers different and why shouldn’t they have the same legal obligation to their clients?

5. There are countless stories of investors who have been ripped off by advisers who they trusted with their money: elderly retirees talked into buying annuities with a lengthy lock-up period, workers who saw a lifetime’s worth of savings whittled away from high fees and commissions on products their adviser recommended..  What would you say to those people who cannot believe that this Administration wants to roll back a rule that is designed to protect others from similar abuses, by simply requiring advisers to act in their clients’ best interests?


Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit

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