Compliance with the new U.S. Department of Labor fiduciary regulations won’t start until next April, but financial advisors need to understand the new rules now to be able to be proactive with their clients who will likely have questions about what it means.
“This conversation will come up because it’s in the news," said Pam Krueger, founder and chief executive officer of WealthRamp, who spoke Thursday at the Envestnet Advisor Summit in Chicago.
“As a consumer, as an investor, I’d like to talk to my advisor about this,” added Krueger, whose company connects consumers with advisors. “I don’t want to be with friends at cocktail parties talking about this and have this nagging feeling in the back of head, ‘I wonder if my advisor is looking out for my best interest.’”
Advisors need to also beware of wearing the fiduciary label as a “badge of honor” because most clients already thought their advisor was working in their best interests. What consumers want, Krueger said, is to understand the value proposition of an advisor’s advice.
"I wanted advice; I didn’t want to buy products…. I want to understand what I’m paying for and how much, and I want to see it in writing and how it comes out of my account. If it’s that transparent and simple, then I don’t need to understand the DOL rule as much as you do,” Krueger said.
Some advisors might be inclined to wait to have client discussions about the rule until after the November presidential election, figuring a new administration might try to roll back the rules. But some speakers at the conference said that’s unlikely.
Clarke Camper, head of government relations at Capital Group, noted the DOL rule probably won’t crack the top five list of things the Republicans would want to roll back, “especially since politically it’s been framed as Wall Street versus Main Street.”
Regarding the DOL rule, advisors can grandfather in accounts established prior to when compliance starts in April 2017, which means they must set up operations to handle both new and old accounts. That’s where taking advantage of technology and new products may help.
Bo Bohanan, director, retirement services at Raymond James, said he expects more products will be developed to help advisors with smaller businesses, such as turn-key products that will address DOL compliance.
When it comes to dealing with Individual Retirement Account rollovers, Patrick Rieck, an independent consultant who most recently was head of corporate retirement at Morgan Stanley, said most firms will likely use the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority 1345 rule guidance on how to work with clients on IRA rollovers.