The U.S. House Financial Services Committee passed the Financial Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs (CHOICE) Act on September 13, a kitchen sink piece of legislation that would roll back many of the advances made since passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The bill takes a broad swipe at financial regulation and would decrease the power and independence of many oversight bodies. Among the bill’s targets are the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Dodd-Frank’s signature Volcker Rule restricting dangerous speculative investments on the part of banks, and the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule for retirement investment advice. This kind of legislation, regardless of whether it stands a chance of ever becoming law, represents a serious threat to regulators’ ability to protect consumers.
The CHOICE Act and similar legislation raise a lot of alarms. As I mentioned in my blog post last month, industry forces and certain elected officials are pulling out all the stops to block the fiduciary rule from taking effect, and the CHOICE Act represents only the most recent attack. In a Congressional atmosphere of general hostility towards oversight of our financial system, it is imperative that advocacy groups stay vigilant in their support of strong rules and an autonomous CFPB.
DOL’s fiduciary rule requires that investment advisors act in clients’ financial best interests. If the rule is enacted as intended, it will provide a crucial safeguard for the millions of Americans who put their trust in investment advisers in order to save for retirement.
In this spirit and on behalf of Woodstock Institute, I would like to announce our new campaign mobilizing Illinois-based support for the national implementation of this rule as intended. Over the course of the next year, Woodstock will lead efforts across our state, building a coalition of Illinois organizations in support of the fiduciary rule, highlighting the stories of people victimized by financial advisors’ compromised interests, highlighting the practices of bad actors, and closely engaging with members of Congress to minimize threats and changes to the rule.
There are plenty of opportunities for Woodstock allies and supporters to get involved. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a compromised investment advisor, please don’t hesitate to contact me to provide an account of your story. We will also share information about attempts to kill the fiduciary rule and provide the contact information for elected officials when needed. Stay tuned to this space and watch our social media for further opportunities to participate