Two weeks after the Department of Labor released the final language of its landmark fiduciary rule, financial advisors remain uncertain about how the regulation will impact their industry, according to a recent poll.
In a survey published this week by Boston-based Pioneer Investments, advisors were split on how the rule would impact their business: 51 percent of respondents believe that the regulation would help their practices by leveling out the playing field on retirement advice and eliminating competition from non-fiduciaries, while 27 percent believe the rule will harm their business.
In 2015, 27 percent of advisors thought the rule would help their business, while 38 percent felt that the regulation would hurt their business and 15 percent thought it would be a non-event.
Level-fee fiduciaries dominated Pioneer’s respondents, 61 percent of whom said they would not need to rely on the DOL rule’s best interest contract exemption, which would enable them to offer products with differential compensation or commissions. Seventeen percent, however, said they would use some form of the exemption.
Twenty percent of the respondents said they would change from a non-level to a level compensation model to avoid having to use the best interest contract exemption.
The advisors foresee changes in the broker-dealer channel to adjust to the new regulations: 36 percent expected their broker-dealers to offer more level compensation products to avoid the best interest contract exemption, 13 percent said that their broker-dealer would likely rely on the exemption to continue providing products with conflicted compensation models, and 8 percent said they expect to use a robo-advisor to support small or potentially orphaned accounts.
In the 2016 survey, 47 percent of the advisors said that the new rule would hurt investors by raising costs and limiting the availability of advice to small and middle-income investors, while 37 percent said the rule would help investors by eliminating many conflicts of interest. Ten percent said it would have no impact.
In 2015, 42 percent thought the rule would hurt investors, while 32 percent thought it would help and 8 percent thought it would have no impact.
When asked how the final rule would impact their IRA rollover business, almost half of the respondents, 49 percent, said that it would have little to no impact, 23 percent said it would have a moderate to high negative impact and just 12 percent thought that the rule would have a moderate to high positive impact. Sixteen percent of the respondents were unsure of whether the rule would affect their rollover business.
For its survey, Pioneer Investments polled 861 advisors attending DOL-related webinars in April 2015, after the release of the DOL’s originally proposed fiduciary rule, and in April 2016, after the DOL released the rule’s final language. Respondents represented multiple channels of business, including wirehouses, broker-dealers, insurance companies and independent advisors.