ACLI/NAIFA statement on Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling (March 15, 2018)
Fifth Circuit's decision vacating Department of Labor's fiduciary rule (March 15, 2018)
ACLI supports the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that vacates the Department of Labor’s fiduciary regulation in its entirety. This is a great win for Americans saving for retirement.
Prior to the court decision, ACLI supported the Department of Labor’s decision to delay for 18 months provisions of the fiduciary regulation that were slated to apply January 1, 2018. The delay was intended to provide sufficient time for the department to complete its examination of the regulation and determine its next steps.
As currently written, the Department of Labor’s fiduciary regulation limits retirement savers’ access to education and information about retirement solutions like annuities, the only financial products in the marketplace that guarantee lifetime income.
Our objective since the department first proposed the fiduciary regulation in April 2015 has been to work cooperatively with the department to ensure its final rule protects consumers without harming their ability to obtain the financial and retirement security advice they want and need.
During the department’s rulemaking effort, ACLI made clear that the regulation would not serve the best interests of consumers as it would result in:
- Less access to investment advice and education for low- and middle-income savers and retirees;
- Limited investor choice and consumer access to all investment services—such as proprietary products, commission-based sales and annuities, the only financial products in the private marketplace that guarantee lifetime income;
- Reduced small business owners’ access to information and products they need to establish and maintain retirement plans and help workers save for retirement.
ACLI welcomed the President's memorandum on February 3, 2017 that directed the Secretary of Labor to examine the regulation to determine whether it may adversely affect the ability of Americans to gain access to retirement information and financial advice. Any objective analysis would conclude that the regulation will have a harmful impact on investors due to a reduction in access to retirement product structures, retirement savings information and related financial advice. The path forward is clear. Any regulation that makes it harder for Americans to obtain the financial products and services they want and need should return to the drawing board.
Full implementation of the regulation must be delayed to allow the department, state insurance regulators, the Securities and Exchange Condition, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and Congress to work in concert on reasonable and appropriately tailored rules that require all sales professionals to act in the best interest of their customers. A collaborative and harmonized approach would ensure all consumers receive retirement savings information and related financial guidance from financial professionals acting in their best interest, regardless of the retirement products they purchase.