DOL Extends Fiduciary Rule Comment Period In Response to Push by Groups, Lawmakers

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By Phil Kushin and Kristen Ricaurte Knebel

May 18 — The Labor Department announced May 18 it will extend by 15 days the comment period for its closely watched re-proposed fiduciary rule.

The agency is extending the period for public comments to 90 days, from the 75 set out when the proposed rule (RIN 1210-AB32) was issued April 14, a DOL spokesman said.

Several groups and lawmakers from both parties had requested an extension of the time to comment on the complex and controversial proposal, many to 120 days.

The spokesman said the length of the extension to provide input on the proposal, also known as the conflict-of-interest rule, also takes into account those who didn't want the comment period to be changed.

The extension moves the comment deadline to July 20.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held the week of Aug. 10, after which the comment period will be reopened for approximately 30 to 45 days, the spokesman said.

Re-Proposed Rule More Complicated

Nevin E. Adams, chief communications officer at the American Retirement Association, told Bloomberg BNA in a May 18 e-mail that the extra time is beneficial, especially given the complexity of the issue and the length of the proposed rule and the accompanying prohibited transaction exemptions.

“As we noted in our request for an extension, this is a longer and significantly more complicated proposal than the 2010 version, on which we were given more time to review/comment,” he said. “We continue to find points of question/concern with the current proposal a month after its publication.”

Alice Joe, managing director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, was also pleased with the extension of the comment period, but said the group would have preferred even more time.

“Although we requested an extension” to 120 days, “the additional 15 days will be helpful in allowing us to gather additional information on the impact of the proposal,” she told Bloomberg BNA in a May 18 e-mail.

She said that because the proposed rule will have a “significant impact” on how Americans save and plan for retirement, “it is important to give all consumers and stakeholders adequate time to understand the rule and its implications, and submit meaningful comments that will help avoid unintended consequences.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Phil Kushin in Washington at pkushin@bna.com; Kristen Ricaurte Knebel in Washington at kknebel@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bna.com