Labor Dept. to revise financial adviser rule after Dem backlash

Faced with an uprising from Democrats, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez on Friday pledged to make changes to the administration’s controversial proposal for regulating financial advisers. Perez declined to say what would be altered in the proposal or when it would be released, saying only that he is “confident” the revisions will improve it.


Pressed for details, Perez said that he “can’t really get specific on that because of where we are at in the rulemaking process.”
The comments, which Perez made during remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington, comes after a heavy backlash against the regulatory effort from business groups, Republicans and some Democrats.

Perez has maintained for some time that he would make changes to the proposal after an open comment period.

Obama, Perez and progressives such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) argue that the regulations, known as fiduciary rules, are needed because too many financial advisors sell bad investment packages in order to turn a profit from financial institutions.

The proposed fiduciary rules, which are complex, would require financial advisers to disclose more information to their clients about the compensation they receive.

The business community is on the warpath against the regulations, arguing they would hurt low- and middle-income Americans by limiting their access to financial advice.

Those concerns are being amplified in the Democratic Party.

Last month, more than half of the Democrats in the House signed a letter pressing the administration to make changes to the proposal. They warned the rules as written were impractical and could raise costs for consumers.

Perez called the issue one of his “top priorities” and said that he’s “probably done more outreach [on the fiduciary proposal] than any other issue at the agency.”

Appropriations bills in both the House and Senate are seeking to block Perez from implementing the regulations.

– This story was updated on Oct. 18.