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Industry trade groups met with the Department of Labor on Tuesday to clarify the department’s request regarding what impact the conflicts of interest faced by brokers who advise IRAs have on IRA investors.
But after the Tuesday meeting, industry trade groups are still limited in how much help they can provide.
Lillian Vogl, director of Federal Relations for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), told AdvisorOne after the afternoon meeting that while NAIFA is “encouraged” that “DOL is trying to perform a very thorough data collection, there are inherent difficulties in providing a comprehensive view of a person’s financial decisions in the way [DOL] would like to have.”
Despite the difficulty in getting such data, however, Vogl says the DOL “made it clear that they want to move forward quickly,” and wants to know what information the trade groups’ members can provide.
A DOL spokesman told AdvisorOne the same day that the department "hopes to hear very soon what data are, or are not, available and to receive whatever relevant available data the groups can provide."
David Bellaire, general counsel and director of government affairs for the Financial Services Institute, says FSI will meet with DOL on Friday, as FSI is now holding its annual conference in Orlando.
The DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) recently launched an expanded “regulatory impact analysis” to assess the impact of the department’s reproposed fiduciary rule on ERISA plans and IRAs. Industry trade groups were asked by EBSA’s Office of Policy Research on Dec. 15 to voluntarily assist EBSA in its fact-finding mission.
Applying a fiduciary standard to IRAs is one of the more controversial aspects of the reproposal.
EBSA asked the groups to provide it with data that will “more rigorously and definitively determine what impact, if any, conflicts of interest faced by brokers or others who advise IRAs have on IRA investors.”
The groups—which included the FSI, NAIFA, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the American Council of Life Insurers, the Insured Retirement Institute and the American Bankers Association--told EBSA in a Jan. 12 letter that it would be impossible for them to provide the data to DOL by Jan. 15 and requested a meeting to “clarify and refine” DOL’s original request so they could reach out to their members to determine what information the industry is able to provide.
But Vogl says the problem is that DOL is trying to compile “very detailed statistics about individual account attributes, like how [account holders’] advisors got paid, if people received advice—all sorts of demographic information about them.” However, she says, there’s no “way to provide that [data] in a systematic way,” one reason being that people may have multiple accounts—in IRAs and 401(k)s—“and there’s no way to connect across, especially for privacy concerns, their Schwab account with their Merrill Lynch account,” for instance.