DoL rule is changing advisers’ business planning
Even as clients' risk appetite increased, regulatory changes have left some advisers worrying about the future of their practices.
The Retirement Adviser Confidence Index, Financial Planning's monthly barometer of business conditions, inched up half a percentage point to 52.8, driven higher in part by increasing client confidence in market conditions.
"Clients’ optimism has climbed with the market following the brief British scare," a planner says.
Clients' risk tolerance level increased by 3 percentage points from the prior month, to reach 53.1. That figure was up 24.3 points from the prior year.
Target-date funds have proven to be a particularly popular investment vehicle with clients. Planners reported that the amount of client assets used to purchase such funds rose 2 points to 48. That was 5.8 points higher than the same period a year ago.
Yet at the same time, advisers lamented new pressures on fees, as well as increasing compliance costs due to pending implementation of the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule, which is upending advisers' assumptions about the future trajectory of their practices.
The fiduciary rule is already affecting how planners work at one adviser's firm. "There is a big push to review accounts for eligibility, and whether or not it makes sense to convert them from brokerage to managed accounts," the adviser says.
A wealth manager says the regulatory environment has become "so caustic" that it has changed how the manager thinks about counseling business owners on retirement plans. "I would not advise any small business to open a 401(k) plan at this time," the wealth manager says.
The controversial new regulations begin to take effect next April. One planner says her firm is evaluating the liabilities with regard to certain investment offerings.
"If the profit margin is so compressed, then we do not feel that it is worth our time to service and offer different products to take on additional risk to our practice," the planner says.