Since the U.S. Department of Labor revealed the final language for its fiduciary rule in April, advisor attitudes towards the rule have improved.
The number of advisors who see the DOL’s rule making as an opportunity has more than doubled since January, according to a recent study from Boston-based Fidelity Institutional.
Fidelity’s survey of financial advisors found that 29 percent of respondents felt like the DOL’s rule would have a positive impact on their businesses, a 17 percentage-point increase since January.
Some advisors, though -- 10 percent -- say the new regulations are prompting them to consider leaving the business. Another 18 percent said that they were reconsidering their careers as advisors. Meanwhile, a recent LIMRA Secure Retirement study found 54 percent of broker-dealers surveyed believe some of their advisors will retire rather than sell because of the rule.
In the Fidelity survey, more than half of the advisors, 54 percent, said they have already taken action to prepare for the rule, compared with only 20 percent who had started to prepare in January.
Smaller clients may be the big losers as the DOL rule comes into enforcement in 2017 -- two-thirds of the respondents said they will re-evaluate the types of clients they work with as a result of the rule, and 54 percent plan to let go or transition smaller clients -- yet Fidelity says that 10 percentage points fewer advisors felt this way in August as compared with January.
More than one in three respondents, 36 percent, said that their firms have added or are planning to add an automated investment offering as a result of the rule to more efficiently help clients.
Fidelity said that national brokerage advisors have shown the most progress in planning for the rule, while other broker-dealers and RIAs have shown significantly less.
In its analysis, Fidelity said that many RIAs don’t believe that they need to plan for the rule, given that they are already considered fiduciaries. Only half of the RIA respondents said that they will re-evaluate how and when they recommend rollovers from 401(k)s to individual retirement accounts, a key issue of the rule, which applies a fiduciary standard to all advice on 401(k)s and IRAs, including rollovers.
“We are seeing shifts in perspectives as well as shifts in plans as firms begin to chart their long-term strategies for growth in the post-DOL rule landscape,” said Tom Corra, chief operating officer, Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions, in a statement. “For firms who haven’t started their planning, there are steps they can take today to get them on the path to readiness for April, including developing a fact base of their existing retirement business and exploring new business models and segmentation strategies.”