Securities and Exchange Commissioner Daniel Gallagher on Friday called the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed rulemaking on fiduciary standards for retirement plan advisors “a runaway train.”
Gallagher warned the DOL could make entire categories of investments for retirement plans and their participants disappear by excessively banning conflicts of interests by advisors and brokers.
“It’s easy to shout about (vilifying) conflicts of interest,” Gallagher said. “It’s a lot harder to establish a regulatory system that balances mitigating conflicts and effective disclosures with expanding investment opportunities for the good of individual investors and the economy as a whole, as the commission has done for the past several decades.”
He criticized the DOL for not working closely with him and his SEC colleagues in developing the proposed rule.
While acknowledging he has not seen a draft which reportedly has made its way to the White House, Gallagher said a leaked memo from the White House to the Labor Department pushing for a strong fiduciary standard ignores the already comprehensive oversight of financial advisors and broker-dealers by the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
In addition, he said the White House memo’s contention that a strong fiduciary standard for advisors to retirement plans is needed to prevent excessive buying and selling of investments by brokers at the expense of investors ignores strong SEC and Finra prohibitions against churning.
Gallagher’s remarks came in a speech to the annual SEC Speaks program in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Practising Law Institute.