The Department of Labor will define the responsibilities of a fiduciary “with as much vigorous debate as possible,” a top DOL official said Thursday at an industry convention in Las Vegas.
The comment by Michael Davis, deputy assistant secretary of labor at the Employee Benefits Security Administration, made at the Plan Sponsor Council of America convention followed Monday's announcement that the Labor Department would repropose the rule defining a fiduciary in early 2012.
“The core argument (of the proposed regulations) is solid,” Mr. Davis said. “We are not backing down.”
Most public comment letters received by the DOL “did not challenge the premise of what we did,” said Mr. Davis, adding the theme of the proposal will remain the same: “If you say you are a fiduciary, then you are a fiduciary.”
Mr. Davis said he was surprised by the tone of some public comments about the proposed regulation: “We thought the rule would be received with some trepidation, but not the firestorm we received.”
Some of the issues the DOL will revisit include assessing a line between what constitutes investment advice and what constitutes investor education, he said. The department will also re-examine issues relating to rollovers and routine appraisals.
Despite the controversy over the rule, Mr. Davis said one thing was clear: “I see a very short line of people in front of our building saying they want to be a fiduciary.”
At the convention, the organization changed its name to the Plan Sponsor Council of America from the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America.