Perspectives: Differentiation – RIIA® & The Fiduciary Rule

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) published its final package of rules, exemptions and guidance with respect to the provision of Fiduciary Advice by financial intermediaries (the “Fiduciary Rule”) on April 8.

Following the publication of the rules, industry associations detailed the efforts made to protect institutional members from the full impact of the original proposal.

With its diverse membership, RIIA® has taken a different path.  RIIA has dedicated its efforts exclusively to building an educational platform for financial intermediaries and, by extension, its institutional members, designed to meet the needs of the retirement income client.

With 10,000 boomers retiring daily for the next 15 to 20 years, RIIA recognized early the shift in the center of gravity of the industry toward the client.  Our View Across The Silos℠ approach, from RIIA’s founding in 2005, reflects the client rather than product centric approach to planning in our DNA.  And, the launch of the Retirement Management Analyst (RMA®) designation, curriculum and in-class teaching programs with universities in 2010, was the embodiment of this philosophy.

In the Spring of 2015, RIIA and Salem State University developed a new on-line course to extend the reach of the RMA nationwide.  The curriculum, practice manual and new client book reflect comprehensive and objective retirement income planning and planning tools.

By starting with clients and leveraging products to meet their needs in the context of its Procedural Prudence map℠, the RMA curriculum parallels the DOL’s client interest-first mandate for the industry.  Because its founders and many of its members “walk the path of the client,” the RMA curriculum has come to reflect best practices for quality retirement planning.  Today, for those who have completed the designation, it offers validation of quality in retirement planning.

Quality in this sense is measured through the holistic approach to the needs of clients championed by RIIA and now reflected in the goals of the DOL Fiduciary Rule.  We have always believed that this was the right thing to do.

Today, RIIA’s approach and the RMA offer more than a philosophical differentiation.  It is the view of the RIIA legal team that the RMA curriculum in general, and the development of the Household Balance Sheet℠ in particular, provide a uniquely valuable documentary proof for compliance with the DOL’s Best Interest Contract Exemption (“BICE”).

We believe that the most useful and relevant response to the publication of the Fiduciary Rule is not to focus on how the rule was weakened, but to embrace the industry’s and the regulators’ goal of putting client’s interests first.  One of the best ways to do this is for financial intermediaries to enroll in the RIIA/SSU distance learning program and to add the RMA to approved designation lists, as leading companies have already done.  The next class commences on April 25, 2016.

For more information contact me at [email protected] or Francois Gadenne, Co-Founder, Chairman and Executive Director, RIIA®, at [email protected].


Al Turco, Board Special Counsel, RIIA®
Partner, McElroy, Deutsh, Mulvaney & Carpenter / PH, LLP

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