Record keepers are taking multiple approaches to complying with the Department of Labor fiduciary rule despite their uncertainty about whether that rule later will be amended, revised or even repealed.
Some are stepping up fiduciary advice responsibilities to participants over what had been previously viewed as non-fiduciary education. Others are staying a step back from most fiduciary activities, focusing on continued and expanded education services.
At call centers, some record keepers are using a two-step process — providing education when participants make initial contact, but referring them to an internal or external fiduciary if the questions require more detailed responses and guidance.
Record keepers have been pressing ahead despite uncertainty ever since President Donald Trump in February ordered the Labor Department to review the regulation to determine if it “has harmed or is likely to harm” investors, or could increase costs to investors and retirees. The rule's start-date was delayed until June 9, from April 10.
Adding to the uncertainty are several lawsuits filed by financial, insurance and business groups to block or delay the rule. On June 8, two members of the House of Representatives introduced a bill to kill the fiduciary rule and replace it with what they said would better serve participants and advisers.
“While it is possible that the DOL will change or further postpone those requirements in the coming months, we are working to ensure we can continue to provide the help and services our clients and their participants want and need” if the rule is modified, said Margaret McKenna, executive vice president of relationship management for Fidelity Investments, Boston.