In late June, after the Trump administration refused to defend it in court, the Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule on retirement accounts was pronounced dead.

The final nail in the coffin came when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a mandate to "vacate the fiduciary rule in toto," as a court statement put it.

Some observers celebrated the death of a rule that required all advisors to put the interest of their clients first; others decried the reversal. Yet many found this latest change anticlimactic, at least so far—including some of the nation's biggest annuities providers.

"There is no going back," said Craig Hawley, head of Nationwide Advisory Solutions, who added that surveys have shown that advisors consider a fiduciary model a boon to their practice.

Other insurers expressed their own nuanced spin on recent events.

"Jackson supports regulatory initiatives that empower consumers to access high-quality, impartial advice about how to grow and protect their savings, and effectively plan for retirement," said Barry Stowe, CEO of Jackson Holdings, which includes annuity provider Jackson National Life Insurance Co.

"Consumers should have the choice of paying for financial advice and solutions on a commission or fee basis, with all the relevant facts plainly before them." The DOL rule discouraged the commission model, requiring parties of such arrangements to sign a Best Interest Contract Exemption [BICE], fully disclosing all terms and fees.

Further complicating the question of what comes next is a proposal from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to create its own "best-interest" standard for broker-dealers, although the agency hasn't exactly defined what it means by "best interest."

"Variable annuities and fixed-indexed annuities will fare differently," explained Marcia Wagner, an attorney at The Wagner Law Group in Boston. "Variable annuities are securities and therefore subject to the SEC’s proposed best-interest regulation, while fixed-indexed annuities are an insurance product, with respect to which the SEC cannot exercise jurisdiction."

Both were included in the DOL rule, though other types of fixed annuities were not.

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