Articles Tagged with Labor Department

In the wake of criticism regarding its proposed rule to enhance the investment advice standards that brokers must abide by when working with retirement accounts, the U.S. Department of Labor official reportedly will make modifications. Under the current proposal, brokers would have to act in their clients’ best interests in individual retirement accounts and 401(k) accounts.

The Labor Department introduced the fiduciary rule proposal earlier this year with the backing of the White House. Public comments were sought.

Members of the financial industry have been critical of the proposal’s provision over best interest contract exemption. By signing a legally binding duty with a client to be in a fiduciary relationship with him/her, a broker is entitled to collect compensation in numerous ways, including commissions, as long as he/she acts in that client’s best interests. Some have expressed concern that such an agreement at the start of talks between a potential client and a broker could be problematic. Others are worried that certain costly changes would have to take place for brokers and their firms abide by the rule, and clients may end up having to foot the extra fees.

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The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association claims that the White House is employing a methodology that is flawed to make the claim that investors are losing around $17 billion in retirement funds yearly because of trading practices that are abusive. SIFMA is against imposing tougher rules against brokers, including a draft rule expected to be released by the U.S. Department of Labor mandating that those who offer retirement plan advice meet a fiduciary standard and place their clients’ best interests before their own. Right now, brokers must only satisfy a suitability standard of care with the requirement that they make appropriate recommendations even if they aren’t necessarily the best.

President Obama wants the Labor Department to go ahead with the rule proposal. In February, the White House put out a report finding that some brokers use excessive trading and costly investments to enhance their commission, as well as take part in other practices that end up costing investors big time.

SIFMA, however, in its new report, claims that the White House is disregarding how similar rule changes such as the one the DOL is expected to propose, impacted investors in the United Kingdom where approximately 310,000 lost their brokers during the first quarter of 2014 alone because their accounts were too small for the representative to handle. Another 60,000 investors were rejected by brokers for their low balances. However, while the U.K.’s rule prohibits brokers from getting paid commissions from mutual funds, the DOL doesn’t plan to institute such a ban.

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