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Financial Firms Begin to Adapt Business Models in Anticipation of Embattled Fiduciary Rule

Months before it is slated to become effective, the DOL’s fiduciary rule’s is changing the financial industry business. The DOL regulation has been under fire as Washington prepares for the incoming Trump Administration. House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling said in a recent speech that the incoming administration along with the Republican majority in Congress should make sure that the rule does not go into effect as planned. The rule is expected to restrict how advisers can be compensated for product sales within retirement accounts and commissions will be prohibited unless firms use a “best interest contract” with clients. So far, several asset management firms have launched new stripped-down share classes with simplified fee structures. Among them is Wells Fargo, which has added Institutional and R6 share classes to certain of its funds. J.P. Morgan recently announced to its clients that they will soon see changes in their accounts as a result of the rule.  Merrill Lynch was one of the first among broker-dealer firms reported to ban mutual funds and commission-based IRAs from their product lineups. Other firms, such as Morgan Stanley, are planning to use the fiduciary rule’s best-interest contract exemption to continue offering commission-based IRAs with options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs. Independent broker-dealer LPL Financial recently launched a mutual fund-only brokerage platform, added products to its no-transaction-fee platform and reduced the number of fund families available to its financial advisor network. The fiduciary rule takes effect in April 2017.