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Reader Poll: What’s Next for the Fiduciary Rule?

Of all the paths to amending, delaying, or even killing the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, it seems fair to say that the election of a Republican President and GOP-majority Congress seemed among the least likely. What do NAPA Net readers think will happen?

First off, let’s be honest. Anybody who tells you they know what will happen is – well, let’s just say they’re more likely to be speaking from theory (or hope… or fear) than fact.

That said, a slim plurality (32%) of this week’s responses said they were expecting the Trump administration to delay and amend the regulation, while nearly as many (29%) thought they would delay it – permanently.

“Nothing right away – they have bigger fish to fry” was the opinion of 17%, with about 15% splitting between “replace it with one of their own” and “nothing.” The rest split between “kill it” and “delay it for awhile.”

Interestingly enough, there was almost as much diversity in terms of what readers said they wanted the Trump administration to do. Again, a slim plurality (31%) went with “delay and amend,” but just 25% opted for “delay it – permanently.” Replace it with one of their own was the opinion of nearly one in five, while one in eight thought the Trump administration would do “nothing.” The rest were pretty evenly split between “nothing right away,” “kill it,” and “delay it for awhile.”

And then there is the matter of what reader firms will do while all this shakes out. Here the responses were much more consistent: Nearly three-quarters (73%) said that their firm would “stay the course preparing for the fiduciary regulation until we know otherwise.” As one reader explained, “ultimately, even if the election results in a delay or elimination of the fiduciary rule, many firms in the industry already have sufficient sunken costs that they will continue down the path they are on. New rule or not, the industry is already changed by it.”

The second-most popular response – and it was distant second – were the 15% who expected their firms to “stay the course – but slow the pace of implementation until we know otherwise.” Another 5% went with “stop and wait until we know the direction,” with the rest split between “no earthly idea” and “work with our legislators to get rid of the rule.”

Yes, there were reader comments. Here’s a sampling:

  • I wouldn't mind seeing a slowdown in regulatory burden on business. Doing so might even help economic growth, who knows?

  • The rule needs to be simplified. It's far too complex.

  • Initially I had hoped there may be room to push the pause button, delay it, and amend it to be easier to implement. But after a few days have passed and many opinions have been shared, I'm coming to the realization that the rule is effective and ready to go forward. It would be very hard to stop it. And any delay would probably just delay implementation, not amend anything.

  • Eliminate the damn thing altogether!

  • One of the more important ways a business operates effectively is to understand the rules. In some form fiduciary reform started in GWB's administration. We now have rules and effective dates. Though not perfect they do correct some practices which needed adjustment and give us some clarity. We'll figure it out and everything will be fine.

  • It's nothing more than liberals trying to Obamacare the financial services industry.
    Congress will repeal this rule. The DOL/EBSA overstepped its authority here.

  • The AARP has been the biggest proponent of the Fiduciary Rule and they are a pretty big lobbying group – lots of retired people with plenty of time to write letters. Also, should our industry give the message that we are against doing what is in the best interest of clients?

  • There were a lot of costly requirements of this new rule and many firms gearing up to supply assistance (and thus standing to make a lot of money). It will be curious to observe how many new DOL Rule backers suddenly become very vocal proponents for it to continue forward as is.

  • Sometimes our blessings come wrapped differently than we expected; we were looking for stripes, but got polka dots instead! We need a fiduciary standard, but one that makes sense, and that can be complied with. This surprise blessing may be the pathway to a more workable solution for all; principles, not heavy-handed regulation... let us pray!

  • The election demonstrates that the public is not interested in supporting a government that produces a pound of regulations to produce an ounce of protection.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our weekly NAPA Net Reader Poll!

Got a question you’d like to run by your peers? Curious about the industry’s “take” on something new or controversial? Post it in the comments section below – or email me at [email protected].