DOL Fiduciary Ruling

Posted by:

When a hard-won historic milestone is achieved, it’s usually front-page news: Apollo 11’s “one giant leap for mankind.” The fall of the Berlin Wall. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream.” … Last week’s fiduciary ruling by the Department of Labor (DOL).

About that last one. If you heard the news, you probably spotted it in the business section or on a financial newsfeed. Not quite a watershed day in the history of the financial services industry but a first step in the right direction for the investor. With the ruling, anyone offering you advice about your retirement assets will be legally required to do so according to your highest interests, regardless of any conflicting incentives or dual roles they may have.

That’s the DOL’s ruling in principle. In reality, it only applies to advice related to retirement account assets such as those held in your 401(k) or IRA. Also, the ruling was watered down by several last-minute compromises that might (1) limit how effectively it can be applied, and (2) dilute the strictest definition of an investor-adviser fiduciary relationship with unnecessary exceptions to the rule. This New York Times overview offers a helpful summary of the issues involved. The author concludes: “[T]he quality of the advice you receive can still vary based on the provider you are working with.”

In short, the DOL’s ruling won’t eliminate every bad thing that can happen to a good investor – not even close. Still, we believe in this small step, and applaud its aim to become a giant leap in the right direction. For all of its flaws, the rule appears to be generating improvements. In anticipation of it, several large financial firms have already begun adjusting conflicted business models, shifting toward more efficiently managed products and lowering inflated prices.

We always have, and always will believe in the strictest definition of fiduciary. This means we will always applaud improvements, even small ones, which better protect investors’ interests, even if they might make running our own business a little more challenging.

By design and intent, we are and will remain an independent, fee-only Registered Investment Advisor firm, dedicated to advising you on how to best manage your wealth – all of your wealth – according to your goals and challenges. We are and will remain dedicated to being transparent and caring and fiduciary. With or without any regulatory requirements, this is what we do; it’s who we are. It’s bred in our bone.

We prefer focusing on doing all we can for you across all of our actions, large and small, according to our long-standing mission. As the DOL rule begins to (hopefully) improve on the retirement planning advice that all investors receive, we welcome any questions you may have about its impact on your own interests. In the meantime, if you notice other firms mimicking us as a result of the new requirements, you might want to ask them: What took you so long?

Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date, but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author on the date of publication and are subject to change. Content should not be viewed as personalized investment advice or as an offer to buy or sell the securities mentioned. A professional advisor should be consulted before implementing any of the strategies presented.
Hyperlinks on this website are provided as a convenience and we disclaim any responsibility for information, services or products found on websites linked hereto. Any links to third party websites are offered only for use at your own discretion.
Tobin Investment Planning LLC is registered as an investment advisor and only transacts business in states where it is properly registered, or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements. Registration as an investment advisor does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by securities regulators nor does it indicate that the adviser has attained a particular level of skill or ability. The firm is not engaged in the practice of law or accounting.
All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment or strategy will be suitable or profitable for a client’s portfolio. There are no assurances that a portfolio will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Past performance is not an indicator of future results.

  Related Posts