Monday, November 14, 2016

Will he or won't he....put the Kibosh on the DOL Fiduciary Rule - Trump I mean

Of all of the words in the English language that I never thought would appear on my blog, the name; Donald Trump would be at the top of that list.  Yet, here it is!!!   The following is a post where I will discuss my initial thoughts of a republican congress and a Donald Trump presidency as related to the retirement plan industry and retirement policy.  This falls into two categories.  First, will this now party-aligned legislative body pass retirement legislation (almost certainly, yes) AND will this new regime seek to unwind any of the previous regime's legislation and regulation.....again, almost certainly yes. 

Regarding the first part, tax reform is almost a veritable certainty to occur in the first couple of years of the Trump presidency.  With that will occur other tax policy initiatives and some of the one's related to retirement and pension reform have been kicking around for a while.  Will it be the most recent one, The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2016  or something similar?  My guess is yes.  This calls for a re-imagining of the rules around Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs) into something new called Pooled Employer Plans or PEPs.  This concept is similar to what the industry has been tauting for years as Open MEPs.  Here is a link to the full mark-up from the Senate Finance Committee. RESA 2016 Full Description.

Regarding the new Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rules.  I've seen/read a lot in the last few days about how this regime is going to squash these rules since they aren't friendly to the financial services industry which is largely aligned with the republican side of the debate.  However, killing a regulation once it's enacted is very difficult to do, it's not like the DOL (assuming new leadership) could just pull it, nor could they subject it to changes without a review and comment period.  This would take us well beyond the upcoming implementation date of April 10. 

So if they were to do this, it would have to be done with an overriding interim regulation or some longer term solution where it gets scrapped as an add-on to a future piece of legislation or just simply delaying implementation of it past April 10th as something to deal with later on.  One thing I find  interesting, is that Trump himself has never spoken about it publicly and his website is silent on the matter altogether.  So whether it is a high priority of the new administration or not remains to be seen, but even if it is a high priority, my expectation is that April will come and go and this new DOL rule will be enforceable at that time BY the private sector. 

For how long after.......time will tell.

- Jason Grantz, QPA, AIFA