Lawmakers will likely push for a bill next week to force the Department of Labor to repropose its fiduciary rule — after the SEC releases its own ruling, ThinkAdvisor writes. The SEC has been futzing around with the idea of extending the fiduciary standard to brokers — at the behest of financial-reform legislation passed by Congress more than five years ago.
For now, while RIA-based advisors and trust officers have to act in a fiduciary capacity by putting their clients’ interests before their own, brokerage-based advisors are bound only to make recommendations that are broadly suitable to the client — and incidental to the buying and selling of securities.
The joint hearing by the Capital Markets and the Oversight and Investigation subcommittees of the House Financial Services Committee is scheduled for Sept. 10, ThinkAdvisor says. Industry folk say the hearing will result in a markup of a bill reintroduced Feb. 25 by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), dubbed the Retail Investor Protection Act. This could force the DOL to wait until the SEC issues its own ruling on the matter, according to ThinkAdvisor.
Former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, who supports the rule coming out of the DOL first, says the SEC is unlikely to make its own fiduciary ruling any time soon because of a contentious deadlock among the commissioners.
Wagner’s bill may pass the House Financial Services Committee but would likely get stalled in the Senate, says ThinkAdvisor. According to industry officials cited by the publication, the more serious threat to the DOL’s proposal is a rider slapped on “either the fiscal 2016 appropriations bill or Continuing Resolution” that would effectively take away the DOL’s money for enforcing the rule. Appropriations committees at both the House and the Senate have floated bills that would ban the DOL from using any of its funds for finalizing, implementing or enforcing its rule.
Prior to the second public hearing on the DOL’s proposal in August, Labor Secretary Tom Perez responded to a letter from Wagner stating that the agency will take into account all the suggestions made in the two public comment periods this summer.