Author Archives: Carolyn Sofman

Financial Planning Coalition Statement on Court Decision in Support of DOL Fiduciary Rule

Washington, D.C. – The Financial Planning Coalition – comprising Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) – issued the following statement on the recent court decision in support of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) ability to issue a Fiduciary Rule:

“Today the American retirement saver won an important victory in a North Texas courtroom as Chief Judge Barbara Lynn supported the Department of Labor’s position that it had the authority to issue a revised fiduciary rule that will protect millions of Americans’ hard-earned retirement assets.

In rendering her 81-page decision, Judge Lynn relied, in part, on the experiences of CFP® professionals operating under a fiduciary standard when providing financial planning services similar to that in the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) as cited in the Financial Planning Coalition’s (FPC) amicus brief:

“Here, the input of amicus Financial Planning Coalition (“FPC”) is pertinent. Although FPC heard the same concerns regarding compensation when it implemented similar standards to BICE in 2008, commission-based compensation has survived, and FPC’s financial professionals continue “to serve middle-income investors using all types of [] compensation models and other innovative methods.”

The Court also finds that the conditions to qualify for BICE are reasonable. FPC notes that its almost 80,000 members have since 2008 successfully operated under a regime similar to that in BICE, including a fiduciary standard, a written contract, disclosure of certain fees, costs, and conflicts of interest, prudency standards, and policies to mitigate conflicts.

The Financial Planning Coalition is gratified that the DOL prevailed in this case. We will continue to encourage the Trump Administration and Congress to avoid delay of the rule’s implementation so that the American retirement saver will benefit from investment advice in his or her best interest.”

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Financial Planning Coalition Statement on President Trump’s Directive to Stop DOL Fiduciary Rule

Washington, D.C. – The Financial Planning Coalition – comprising Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) – issued the following statement on President Trump’s presidential memorandum that would halt the implementation of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rule:

“The Financial Planning Coalition strongly opposes the action taken today by President Trump to halt the Department of Labor’s Final Fiduciary Rule that will protect millions of Americans saving for retirement. With just two months to go before its implementation date, the President has effectively given the green light to maintain the status quo of conflicted financial advice.

By issuing this memorandum, the President is directing the Department of Labor to produce an outcome that will likely lead to either a complete gutting of this thoroughly vetted consumer protection or lead to its outright demise. Either one is a bad outcome for American retirement savers.

The Coalition applauds those firms and individuals who have already acknowledged the rule’s benefit to consumers and taken action to comply with the DOL Fiduciary Rule. Already we are seeing benefits for retirement savers in the form of lower fees, more options and firms developing additional ways to serve middle-income Americans.

While we disagree with the Trump Administration’s approach to the rule, the Coalition – which represents nearly 80,000 financial planning professionals of all business models and sizes – will continue to seek opportunities to work with the Trump Administration to support consumer-first legislation and regulations.”

Financial Planning Coalition Statement on 2016 Presidential Election

Washington, D.C. – The Financial Planning Coalition – comprising Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) – issued the following statement regarding the 2016 Presidential election:

“The Financial Planning Coalition will work with President-elect Trump and the new Administration to support consumer-first legislation and regulations. This includes implementing the Department of Labor’s best interest standard that will benefit millions of retirement savers as well as the SEC’s Section 913 fiduciary standard for retail investors.”

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Financial Planning Coalition Files Amicus Brief in Support of Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule

Coalition Encourages Court to Dismiss Motion for Summary Judgment

Washington, D.C. – The Financial Planning Coalition – comprising Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) – yesterday filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, supporting the Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule and opposing efforts to stop the rule from taking effect.

“The Coalition submits that the experiences of its professionals and their clients show that a broadly applicable fiduciary standard represents a win-win for the industry and the public,” the Coalition wrote in its brief. “The current regulatory framework, however, fails to align advisers’ interests with investors’ by leaving open significant loopholes that allow for the sale of financial products that may not be in the best interests of the investor. The Department’s strengthened fiduciary rule is therefore necessary and appropriate to protect the public.”

In its amicus brief, the Coalition specifically notes their opposition to the current attempt to stop the rule through a court challenge.

The Coalition’s full amicus brief, which can be viewed here, outlines three critical points:

  • Investors currently suffer from a lack of complete, truthful disclosures;
  • Empirical research and the Coalition’s practical experience confirm that middle income investors will retain ready access to professional financial advice under a fiduciary standard of conduct; and
  • Based on CFP® professionals’ experience under standards similar to those required by the Best Interest Contract Exemption, the rule provides a workable solution to allow for advisors to receive transaction-based compensation while providing advice that is in the best interests of the client.

The DOL, through careful deliberation and review, has crafted a final fiduciary rule that reflects extensive public comment and articulates common-sense standards for ensuring financial advice in investors’ best interest. The rule will significantly benefit and protect retirement savers with additional consumer protections and access to retirement advice.

The Coalition’s experience – involving nearly 80,000 financial-planning professionals of all business models and sizes – offers a reality that starkly contrasts with the speculation from the rule’s opponents, and provides the court with a unique perspective on the issues in this case. Thousands of CFP® professionals and FPA and NAPFA members across the country currently provide fiduciary-level services to investors with business models requiring no or very low minimum assets under management.

A 2013 Princeton Survey Research Associates Inc. study revealed that professionals operating under a fiduciary standard reported stronger asset and revenue growth for their clients. Further, a 2014 study showed more than 80 percent of financial professionals who had switched to a fiduciary standard reported that the change was mostly positive for their clients and their own practice. One company noted that it introduced new products with lower surrender fees, saying its products are more “flexible” and “fit better with new trends, customer preference and the market.”

The Coalition firmly believes that when financial professionals operate under a fiduciary standard of conduct, they can continue providing financial advice to investors of all income levels that serves the investors’ best interests.

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Watch: DOL Fiduciary Rule: What Are the Practical Implications?

On July 21, 2016, the Financial Planning Coalition – comprised of CFP Board, FPA and NAPFA – hosted a webinar to discuss the practical implications of the Department of Labor’s new rule amending the definition of “fiduciary investment advice” under ERISA.

In this recorded webinar, ERISA expert Tom Clark, Of Counsel at the Wagner Group, provides a brief review of the DOL rule and address the most frequent recurring questions the Coalition has received from stakeholders, including:

  • The application of the Best Interest Contract Exemption,
  • A discussion of how firms and advisors are reacting to the rule, and
  • Things that advisors and firms need to do to begin the process of complying with the rule.

Please click here to view the webinar questions and answers.

Financial Planning Coalition Commends President Obama for Vetoing H.J. Res 88

Washington, D.C. – The Financial Planning Coalition – comprising Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) – issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s veto of H.J. Res 88, which would nullify the Department of Labor’s final fiduciary rule:

“The Financial Planning Coalition commends President Obama for vetoing this unnecessary and misguided Congressional resolution, which would have left millions of American retirement savers open to harmful retirement advice. We urge Congress to resist any further attempt to delay or roll back this important consumer protection that ensures retirement savers’ best interests are put first.”