SEC, DOL Fiduciary rules may differ says SEC Chairwoman


During Tuesday’s subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, republican lawmakers questioned Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC) chair Mary Joe White on how a rule from the SEC to create stricter retail investment advice standards might be affected or operate in conjunction with a similar rule from the Department of Labor (DOL). The committee expressed concern about whether requiring compliance of similar rules from separate agencies might cause confusion for investment firms.

White answered by emphasizing that both agencies would do their best to align the rules but asserted that at the end of the day, they are separate agencies with their own enforcement authority and agendas. She did suggest that some level of cooperation from both agencies would be necessary.

“Assuming there was a DOL rule that preceded ours and overlapped, we would continue to talk about coordination and making our rules and the regime as compatible as possible,” White continued that rules “don’t always land identically; you try to make them land identically if you can, but [the SEC and DOL] are separate agencies, [with] separate statutory mandates.”

Chairwoman White did allow that there had already been some cooperation between agencies. “The staff of the SEC did provide substantial technical assistance to the Department of Labor, including bringing our staff expertise on the broker-dealer model [and] their views about possible impacts of various permutations of the rule.”

Ultimately, her comments confirmed that a rule by the DOL would not expedite the SEC’s process and declined to provide a timeline. “It's very hard and not quick to do this well.” White said.