The US Department of Labor is proposing a rule to close loopholes around the fiduciary standard. Specifically, they are looking at rollovers from 401(k) plans to IRAs; products not regulated by the SEC such as indexed annuities and commodities; and recommendations to employers on which funds to offer in 401(k) plans.
The SEC raised the bar for financial advice in 2019, applying the fiduciary standard to most types of investments. Yet, there are certain areas where the SEC doesn’t have jurisdiction. However, the Department of Labor does have regulatory authority over retirement accounts.
The fiduciary standard mandates that any investment recommendations need to be made in the best interest of clients and that any conflicts of interest should be disclosed. This has major implications given that nearly 6 million Americans rollover approximately $600 billion into IRAs every year, while 86 million Americans are putting money into their 401(k) plans. Indexed annuity sales were $79 billion in 2022 and expected to easily exceed this amount in 2023.
According to the administration, hidden costs and junk fees are denting households’ retirement savings by up to 20%. However, there is some pushback as critics contend that these rules will lead to more confusion, expenses for compliance, and eventually negatively affect retirement plans and retirees.
Finsum: The Biden Administration is looking to expand the fiduciary standard to cover areas that fall outside of the SEC’s jurisdiction such as commodities and fixed annuity products.
- index annuities
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