Financial industry trade groups that filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule Thursday are unlikely to persuade the court to immediately bar the regulation, predicted Brooks Magratten, a Rhode Island attorney and ERISA expert.
The court where the suit was filed, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, leans left, said Magratten, who edited a book last year for the American Bar Association that dealt with the treatment of retirement plans in the nation’s courts.
When Magratten reviewed the rule, he said he saw no reason for the courts to overturn it.
“I think the rule will be fully adopted and implemented,” he said.
He thinks the rule makes a lot of sense because it pushes for greater clarity and transparency by investment advisors to disclose fee structures and potential financial conflicts of interest.
Part of the added clarity, he said, is that the rule explicitly lays out a fiduciary duty for pension fund advisors.
He noted the obligation to act in the best interest of retirement plan participants had been implied for a long time.
Like the leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the trade associations that are taking the lead in the suit, Magratten said the rule will likely lead to a spike in litigation against retirement plans and advisors.
“You can call it DOL’s gift to lawyers,” he said.
But he added that the litigation increase is only likely to be a short-term phenomenon.