With the rulemaking process moving into its final stages, the Department of Labor received a delivery today of petitions in which more than 230,000 signers call for action to protect Americans against self-serving retirement advice. The signatures were gathered by CREDO Action, MoveOn.org, Americans for Financial Reform, and Public Citizen. Ethel Sprouse, the former Mayor of Cedar Bluff, Alabama, accompanied the petition deliverers and told her story at the event.
“The lead agency for investor protection isn’t a natural target for the party’s liberal wing… But half of all Americans own some form of stock… More important, the securities industry has insinuated itself into more of American life. Individuals and small business increasingly get loans through the capital markets; our 401(k) plans are based on publicly traded investments… ‘We marketized our retirement system, we marketized our banking system, and the SEC is the main securities regulator,’ said Marcus Stanley, policy director for the coalition Americans for Financial Reform.”
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray accepted delivery today of a set of birthday-card-style petitions in which more than 13,500 Americans express their support and gratitude for the Bureau’s efforts “to safeguard American consumers, families and communities against the deceptive and abusive practices of
With a public review process just getting underway, CREDO Action, MoveOn.org, AFR and Public Citizen have submitted petitions in which more than 225,000 people tell lawmakers and regulators to uphold the promise of strong action to protect Americans against self-serving retirement advice.
“Members of the SaveOurRetirement.org coalition and a diverse collection of public interest groups, civil rights leaders, labor unions, professional organizations and others today commended the public release of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rule to protect Americans from conflicts of interest when brokers and other financial advisers give retirement investment advice.”
The Department of Labor, backed by the rest of the Obama administration, has renewed its push to hold retirement advisers to tougher standards, seeking to require more brokers to act in the best interest of their clients. That effort has in turn spurred another bout of vigorous lobbying by Wall Street interests, keen on preserving the status quo… “There is just a tidal wave of opposition,” says Lisa Donner of Americans for Financial Reform, a consumer group that supports the proposed rules. “This has been a very long time coming.”
“We are concerned that the Securities and Exchange Commission — which has always prided itself on serving as ‘the investors’ advocate’ — appears in recent years to have strayed from its primary focus on its investor protection mission,” the letter stated. “Given the vital role that average investors play in our markets and the overall economy, and the serious shortcomings that exist in the regulatory protections they receive, it is time in our view for these issues to be prioritized.”
“Americans for Financial Reform is urging Congress to reject Rep. Ann Wagner’s bill to halt Labor Department’s fiduciary duty rule. In a March 10 letter to Congress, AFR says: ‘On behalf of Americans for Financial Reform, we are writing to express our opposition to HR 1090, the ‘Retail Investor Protection Act.’ This misnamed legislation in fact eliminates needed protections for retail investors … Financial professionals not covered by a fiduciary duty are legally free to recommend investments that benefit them, the seller of the product, at the expense of the customer who is saving for their future.’”
“As organizations that support strengthening protections for retirement savers, we write to thank you for sending a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to update and close loopholes in the 40-year-old rules that apply when individuals receive professional advice about retirement investments. Updating protections for retirement savers is urgently needed and long overdue.”
“President Barack Obama unveiled a significant retirement security proposal with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday, announcing plans to bolster retirement accounts by curbing conflicts of interest on Wall Street… Obama’s decision to put political capital behind a new rule has encouraged many financial reform advocates. ‘It makes sense, it’s right and it’s important,’ said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform.”