It’s Here. Now What?
It’s heeeeere. But for many practitioners, practices and firms that read the tea leaves, the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule has been a reality for a while and already has shaped what they do and how they do it.
At a recent session of the SPARK Institute’s Retirement Industry Conference held at National Harbor, MD outside Washington, DC, Lincoln Financial Senior Vice President Sharon Scanlon and T. Rowe Price Vice President Mike Shamburger offered a look at how their firms not only prepared but already have made adjustments because of the rule.
Both Scanlon and Shamburger said their firms are among those that have made changes ahead of the rule’s full implementation. But for both, it has elicited changes beyond the obvious modifications concerning advice and related activities.
Scanlon said that Lincoln Financial is “really focused” on the web, mobile apps and social media. As for T. Rowe Price, Shamburger reports that they are “trying to think beyond retirement” and take a more holistic approach toward finances. And both have enhanced their analytics and benchmarking offerings; Lincoln Financial has launched an analytics dashboard to help with benchmarking, and T. Rowe Price offers an analytics package that includes interactivity and benchmarking.
What should be done as business models incorporate more fiduciary functions? Shamburger suggests looking at one’s existing book and “cleaning it up” and that he thinks there will be a narrower focus on fewer providers. He added that if he were providing services in a particular city and served 10 plans, he would lean toward working with a local TPA.
Shamburger and Scanlon also spoke about efforts to support retirement professionals. Shamburger said that there are big responsibilities for broker-dealers; among them are developing tools for advisors. “There will be a lot of innovation,” he said. Scanlon noted that her firm has “rolled out concierge services, a model that will help advisors meet heavier demand for information and a higher volume of questions.”
Scanlon and Shamburger have reported a positive response to their efforts, but the new milieu also has shaped their companies’ approaches. Shamburger added that his firm is adding measurable, tangible features and enhancing financial literacy features. “Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking we define the market,” he said, “but it really defines us.”