A coalition of 18 business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Financial Services Institute, and Investment Company Institute, is urging the Department of Labor to extend the comment period for its proposed fiduciary rule for retirement advisors. The groups argue that the current 60-day period is “unprecedented” and significantly shorter when considering the multiple federal holidays during this time.
In a joint letter, the groups highlight the lack of time granted to interested parties, stating that the Labor Department has had nearly three years to publish the proposed rule but only allocated 39 workdays for review and comment. They request an extension of at least 60 days to adequately address and provide feedback on this major fiduciary proposal.
The Labor Department has yet to respond to inquiries regarding the letter.
Many of the signatories have already expressed their opposition to the policy proposal. The rule aims to expand fiduciary responsibilities for advisors assisting retail investors with retirement plan rollovers and those advising plans on investments without currently being considered fiduciaries.
One of the signatories, the Insured Retirement Institute, has been particularly vocal in criticizing both the proposal and the administration’s portrayal of the annuities industry. The Biden administration has frequently cited annuities as an example of products that impose high commissions on retirement savers, referring to them as “junk fees.”
Urgent Appeal for More Time to Review DOL Proposal
Many reputable organizations are concerned about a new proposal from the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding employee benefits security. These organizations were previously involved in a legal challenge against a similar rule enacted during the Obama administration, which was ultimately invalidated by the court. If the new proposal becomes a final regulation, it is highly likely that another industry lawsuit will ensue.
To address their apprehensions, the groups have sent a letter to Lisa Gomez, the DOL’s assistant secretary for employee benefits security. In this letter, they appeal for additional time to thoroughly analyze the extensive 500-page proposal and submit comprehensive comments. Additionally, the organizations request a second comment period of 30 days.
Notably, the Labor Department has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal 45 days after its publication in the Federal Register, with the comment period ending 15 days later. However, the concerned groups contest this scheduling decision as well. They argue that the hearing should take place after the close of the comment period, allowing DOL staff adequate time to review the submissions and pose relevant questions to witnesses regarding their feedback.
The organizations firmly believe that arranging the hearing before the comment period comes to an end indicates a mere “check-the-box” exercise by the DOL, rather than a sincere effort to obtain valuable feedback.