The Department of Labor this week is holding a series of hearings to discuss its fiduciary rule proposal. The hearings, held over four days, are comprised of 25 panels and 79 presenters. The panelists represent consumer advocates, industry groups, and industry participants, including Fidelity, AARP, SIFMA, and ICI, as well as a number of academics. The hearings are being streamed live. After the hearings, the Department will reopen the comment period. The Department plans to leave the comment window open until 14 days after it has released the transcripts of the hearings. In the release announcing the hearings, the Department highlighted the 90-day initial comment period and suggested that, with the reopening of the comment period, it anticipated that the overall opportunity for public comment may span more than 140 days.
The rule has already received 2,592 individual comment letters and 328,040 form letters. The department is separately collecting comment on exemptions to the proposed rule and it has received 266 comment letters on that topic. SIFMA recently launched a website with a public appeal to “Keep Retirement Open.” The site urges visitors to contact members of Congress using a form letter on the site. Indeed several lawmakers have already weighed in on the issue. Given the extensive amount of public commentary and potential revision to the rule, a group of 23 lawmakers recently called for the Department to issue a new proposal at the close of the comment period as opposed to proceeding to issuing a final rule.