The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing to change the legal standards for those providing investment advice to retirement accounts. The department has proposed to limit the conflicts of interests that some advisors face when they receive differential compensation for recommending certain investment products over others. Notably, DOL has proposed making such advisors legally liable (fiduciaries) for the advice they provide, which would limit the conflicts of interest they would face. As more and more American households are being expected to provide for their own retirement, rather than being able to rely on traditional pension plans, these issues are increasingly important.
Supporters of the proposed “best interest” standard argue that conflicts of interest have been shown to undermine savers’ retirement assets and must be addressed, and that low-balance investors may be better served by signing up for low-cost, model-based advice that is not conflicted. Many in the investment industry, however, believe that the Labor Department’s proposed rules are unworkable, that conflicts of interest do not present challenges for savers, and that the proposed changes could make it harder and more expensive for low-balance savers to be able to afford the professional guidance they need.
On Friday, October 16, the Brookings Initiative on Business and Public Policy hosted an event exploring these issues. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez gave the keynote address, and was joined by two panels of experts from industry, think tanks, and consumer advocates.
The event will be live webcast. Join the conversation via Twitter at #FiduciaryRule.
Brookings Research and Opinion on this Topic:
- Roundup: Brookings experts on the Labor Department fiduciary rule »
- Martin Baily’s testimony on the conflict of interest rule »
- Martin Baily and Sarah E. Holmes: Serving the Best Interests of Retirement Savers: Framing the Issues »
- David Wessel: Why Harvard’s Laibson and MIT’s Schoar back Labor Department’s ‘fiduciary rule’ for retirement savings »