In an increasingly frantic effort to derail new protections for retirement savers, SIFMA, the self-described "voice of the U.S. securities industry," has purchased yet another study that purports to show why a pending Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to require all financial advisors to put their customers first is unnecessary and inappropriate.
We're not suggesting that everyone who gives retirement investment advice is taking advantage of their clients, since many advisers do act in their client's best interest. But, because the law does not require them to do so, far too many do not. That's why the President's recent action is so important.
In addition to shedding crocodile tears over the potential harm to middle-income savers if brokers have to start acting in their customers' best interests, financial services firms and their lobbyists have increasingly voiced their outrage that the Department of Labor believes it has a role to play in regulating retirement advice.
When a member of Congress wants to rein in a regulator, the classic strategy is to send them a letter with a long list of questions and a short deadline for response. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) recently sent such a letter to Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez.
Ever since the Department of Labor proposed several years ago to close regulatory loopholes that allow financial firms to offer conflicted retirement advice without having to act in the best interests of the retirement savers who rely on that advice, financial services firms have been nearly apoplectic in their opposition.