New rules regulating advice to retirement accounts are projected to cost financial firms billions of dollars, and according to a recent analysis, more than the rule makers anticipated.
The Department of Labor estimates that its fiduciary rule will have a $15 billion impact on the financial industry, but a revised report released Wednesday by Chicago-based Morningstar says the agency may understate the rule’s impact.
After reviewing the final language of the rule, Morningstar’s researchers still believe the fiduciary rule is a major disruption for the financial services industry and that it will affect $3 trillion of IRA assets and $19 billion of wealth management revenue.
“We believe it will disrupt many business models in the industry,” said the report. “We’ve already seen the exit of several foreign banks from the U.S. wealth management landscape, the sale of life insurance retail advisory businesses, and the restructuring of wealth management platforms in anticipation of the rule.”
Morningstar’s report, titled “Final Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule’s Effects Are Substantial,” nevertheless said that the final rule is in many ways more lenient that the DOL’s initial proposal, noting that the final language added exemptions and eased requirements on advice providers.
“I get a sense that this rule is less onerous; it seems like everybody feels that way,” said Tim Slavin, senior vice president of retirement services at Lake Success, N.Y.-based financial services provider Broadridge Financial Solutions.
“Nevertheless,” added Slavin, “clearly the DOL intends to enforce the spirit of the rule, having hired 100 new investigators recently. You don’t get funding for 100 new investigators unless you plan to investigate something.”
In its report, Morningstar predicts that the operating margins on wealth management IRAs will decline by “several percentage points” and that $250 billion in wealth management assets will move to a different investment service offering.
In its report, Morningstar’s researchers believe that more financial business will move to fee-based accounts, robo-advisors and passive investment products as a result of the rule, continuing and accelerating trends already in place.