DoL Delays Investment Advice Rules Implementation

March 20, 2009 ( - The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) has delayed the effective date of its final rules on providing retirement plan participant investment advice.

In the final rule  published in the Federal Register on March 20, the DoL said it is postponing the effective and applicability dates of its final rules from March 23, 2009, until May 22, 2009, “to allow additional time for the Department to evaluate questions of law and policy concerning the rules.” According to the document a number of commenters expressed the view that the final rules raise significant issues of law and policy that should be further reviewed by the Department, specifically raising questions as to the scope of the final rules’ administrative class exemption, and expressing disagreement with the interpretation of the statutory exemption’s conditions contained within the final rules.

Some commenters said the regulation did not adequately protect those in retirement plans from conflicted investment advice providers, and some lawmakers said the investment advice regulation “exceeds Congressional authorization” (see Latest Advice Comment Letters Show Controversy Still Brews ).

The final rule issued in January provided general guidance on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act exemption’s requirements, including computer model certification and disclosures by fiduciaries. The regulation also included a model form to assist advisers in satisfying the exemption’s fee disclosure requirement, and a class exemption expanding the availability of investment advice (see DoL Finalizes Rules on Investment Advice ).