The Labor Department has proposed extending the applicability date of the Best Interest Contract Exemption, the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries, and certain amendments to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24 from January 1, 2018 until July 1, 2019. During the extended period, the current rules and standards would remain in effect. Thus, financial institutions and advisers would have to give prudent advice that is in retirement investors' best interest, charge no more than reasonable compensation, and avoid misleading statements. Comments on the proposed extension are due by September 15, 2017.
In proposing the extension, the Department stated, "More time is needed to carefully and thoughtfully review the substantial commentary received in response to the March 2, 2017, solicitation for comments and to honor the President's directive to take a hard look at any potential undue burden. The examination will help identify any potential alternative exemptions or conditions that could reduce costs and increase benefits to all affected parties, without unduly compromising protections for retirement investors."
Interestingly, the Department further stated, "The Department also anticipates it will propose in the near future a new and more streamlined class exemption built in large part on recent innovations in the financial services industry. However, neither such a proposal nor any other changes or modifications to the Fiduciary Rule and PTEs, if any, realistically could be implemented by the current January 1, 2018, applicability date."
The Department also made its intentions clear with regard to working with the SEC on a uniform rule: "Nor would that timeframe accommodate the Department's desire to coordinate with the SEC in the development of any such proposal or changes. The Chairman of the SEC has recently published a Request for Information seeking input on the '"standards of conduct for investment advisers and broker dealers,"' and has welcomed the Department's invitation to engage constructively as the Commission moves forward with its examination of the standards of conduct applicable to investment advisers and broker-dealers, and related matters."