Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary Tim Hauser took aim Friday at critics who claim the proposed fiduciary rule would harm small investors.

Hauser noted most low income retirement investors don’t seek advice at all.

During a CFA Institute webinar, he said small retirement savers can ill afford losses that often come with conflicted advice allowed under current regulation.

He added many smaller investors think they are getting advice for free, unaware of hidden revenue-sharing arrangements and 12(b)1 fees.

While some companies have warned the proposed imposition of a fiduciary standard on advisors to retirement plan participants would lead them to drop customers with small balances, Hauser said there would be plenty of competitors eager to take their place.

Even without the new standards, he said, retirement plan advisors who do not act as fiduciaries dishonor ERISA.

Blaine Aikin, CEO of fiduciary consulting company fi360, told the session the Securities and Exchange Commission registered investment advisors would experience only a small impact if the rule becomes finalized.

He said investors have much to gain in the form of more competitive and transparent products.