Trump to halt Obama fiduciary rule
(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump will order a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis, a White House official said, signing an executive action Friday designed to significantly scale back the regulatory system put in place in 2010. Trump also will halt another of former President Barack Obama’s regulations, hated by the financial industry, that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. Trump’s order will give the new administration time to review the change, known as the fiduciary rule.
Taken together, the actions are designed to lay down the Trump administration’s approach to financial markets, with an emphasis on removing regulatory burdens and opening up investor options, said the White House official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
The orders are the most aggressive steps yet by Trump to loosen regulations in the financial services industry and come after he has sought to stock his administration with veterans of the industry in key positions. His plans are sure to face fierce criticism by Democrats who charge that Trump is intent on undoing changes designed to protect everything from average investors to the global banking system.
He also could face a backlash from some of his own supporters, whose distrust of big institutions and the financial industry helped fuel the populist anger that propelled Trump to the White House.
Trump is scheduled to issue the directives at a signing ceremony around noon following a meeting of more than a dozen top corporate executives led by Blackstone Group LP Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman.
Trump’s action stalls the so-called fiduciary rule — set to take effect in April — that the Obama administration said would protect millions of retirees from being steered into inappropriate high-cost or high-risk investments that generate bigger profits for brokers.
Republican lawmakers and some financial firms say the fiduciary rule is deeply flawed, arguing that it will restrict options for consumers and result in some savers being denied advice on their retirements. Trump will call for the Labor Department to stop and review the regulation in its entirety.
While the review will be undertaken independently by the Labor Department, the White House aide signaled that the president was expecting significant change.
Delaying implementation of the Labor Department rule is the first step Republicans and the finance industry are eyeing as part of a broader overhaul of the measure. GOP Lawmakers have argued that the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Labor Department, should oversee and regulate any changes related to financial firms.
Banks, asset managers and insurers have been fighting the fiduciary rule ever since the Labor Department approved it last year, saying the regulation could raise the costs of providing advice and make it harder to serve lower-income clients. Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Council of Life Insurers have sued to try to block it.
Still, representatives of some financial services companies said they planned to change practices to meet the regulation’s standard even if it is halted.
“We plan to go forward with the majority of the work we’ve done,” Bill Morrissey, managing director of business development at LPL Financial Holdings Inc., said in an interview before Trump’s order was disclosed. “What investors want is more transparency and lower fees.”
Morgan Stanley, one of the biggest U.S. brokerages, said on Jan. 26 it plans to move ahead with changes designed to comply with the rule, despite uncertainty over whether the regulation will be implemented. Insurers including American International Group Inc. and Principal Financial Group Inc. stressed after Trump’s victory that they would continue to forge ahead as though the rules would be carried out.
“My expectation is that a lot of firms are going to continue installing a best-interest standard, regardless,” said Brian Graff, chief executive officer of the American Retirement Association, a group that represents pension administrators and plan advisers.