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Is the Final Fiduciary Rule Really Final?

Despite the new presidential administration hinting at a delay, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Final Fiduciary Rule became effective on February 16, 2021. Since there has been more than a decade spent waiting for a rule to become the Final Fiduciary Rule, this is significant news.

However, in a press release addressing the effective date of the new Rule, the DOL stated that, “In the coming days, the agency will publish related guidance for retirement investors, employee benefit plans and investment advice providers” and “we will continue our stakeholder outreach to determine how we might improve this exemption, the rule defining who is an investment advice fiduciary, and related exemptions to build on this approach.” Thus, while the Rule is final and effective, there may be future modifications.

Some have suggested that a new fiduciary advice regulation may be proposed. Since the DOL is leaving a temporary enforcement policy in place until December 20, 2021, it is unlikely that service providers will follow the new Rule until then. This certainly allows time for the DOL to provide guidance “improving” the exemption – thus, changing it.

It is important to remember that the last Final Fiduciary Rule was undone by litigation, and that remains a possibility this time around. However, the DOL’s decision to make the Rule effective likely signals that the new presidential administration believes the Rule has sufficient stakeholder support to minimize legal challenges.

So, is the Final Fiduciary Rule really final? Stay tuned. Do you have thoughts on the Final Fiduciary Rule and where we go from here? Let us know on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at

Note: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice. Opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Cammack Retirement Group.

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