The Department of Labor's much-anticipated fiduciary rule could be finalized by early April, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.

The rule, which could have sweeping and unprecedented impacts on the advisory industry, would require planners who advise on retirement assets to place their clients' financial interests before their own.

The Obama administration told unnamed sources it is aiming to wrap up its work on the rule by early next month, the Journal reported.

Helping to protect Americans' retirement savings is one of the administration's key legacy goals. Americans lose about $17 billion every year to bad financial advice in their retirement accounts, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Large industry players have been fighting the rule strenuously. Some say that the implementation timeframe of eight months, as prescribed in the last version of the rule, is unrealistic.

It will be a "massive undertaking," Ira Hammerman, general counsel for SIFMA, one of the industry's largest trade and lobbying groups, has said.

With reporting by Andrew Welsch

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