Practice Management

Firms Charge Ahead Regardless of Trump Policies

Retirement industry executives overseeing one of the largest recordkeeping businesses around say they are optimistic for the future of DC retirement planning, whatever policies emerge from Washington. 

By John Manganaro editors@strategic-i.com | January 19, 2017
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Joe Ready, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, sat down recently with PLANADVISER to discuss the firm’s expectations, opportunities and challenges amid the transition to a Trump presidency and a Republican-controlled Congress.

Ready suggested in no uncertain terms that Wells Fargo is “moving full steam ahead” on its effort to comply with the new Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary standards—even while he agreed that it is very plausible that the rulemaking could be halted or delayed prior to the first deadlines in April.

“The rule could be halted or it could come down right on schedule,” he muses. “We are staying the course on the plans we’ve announced so far and we will continue to do things in the best interest of the clients. It’s a no-brainer, from that perspective.”

Whatever its formal fiduciary status has been in the past, Ready says Wells Fargo (and other firms, too) have always worked hard to serve the best interest of clients.  But in the new fiduciary environment, Ready says Wells Fargo will “be even more disciplined and consistent in its approach with retirement accounts, leveraging the firm’s formal retirement account standards.” This includes frequent client contact, advice that aligns with a client’s verified investment objective and risk tolerance (or documentation if the investments aren’t aligned), and a documented annual review.

“There’s no doubt that it has been a big industry effort to get into shape on fiduciary oversight,” Ready adds. “It’s all driven around the focus on serving the best interest of employees and customers. Using this as a guide post, we feel very confident that we can navigate whatever policies are eventually implemented in Washington.”

NEXT: What Wells will focus on during 2017