The head of fund giant Vanguard says his firm plans to accept the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule as a given, despite several outstanding lawsuits designed to kill it, Financial Advisor magazine writes.

The DOL’s rule, which will force retirement brokers to hold clients’ interests ahead of their own, was met with opposing legislation and several lawsuits by industry groups aiming to squash it within months of its April release, as reported previously.

Among the suits is one by nine associations headed by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was filed in early June, as reported previously.

Speaking at a Morningstar conference this week, William McNabb, chairman and chief executive officer of Vanguard, said the lawsuits will “play out and take time” but that Vanguard is proceeding on the assumption that the rule will be implemented “as written,” Financial Advisor magazine writes.

He said the company plans to do a “few tweaks” to its relationships with its 401(k) clients, according to the publication. McNabb added that the firm will need to “adjust” documentation on IRA rollovers to meet compliance obligations but expects to be ready by the time the DOL’s fiduciary standard is a requirement, Financial Advisor magazine writes. The rule goes into effect April 10 next year, according to the DOL.

McNabb also suggested other fund firms do the same, according to the publication.

Bill McNabb

When the proposal for the rule first came out, Vanguard was apprehensive about its impact on small investors, he said, according to Financial Advisor magazine. But while admitting that the final version isn’t perfect, McNabb said it is “workable” and will be a net positive for the financial industry in the long term, the publication writes.

Vanguard’s chief also expressed concern about the proliferation of exchange-traded funds, comparing the recent trend to the mutual fund industry in the 1980s and 1990s and calling some of the strategies they use “not an investment strategy,” according to Financial Advisor magazine.

McNabb also took issue with smart beta strategies, saying that they’re not a better way to index, according to the publication.