Fiduciary Governance Group member Bill Mandia recently spoke with Fund Intelligence regarding the market’s response to the New York Department of Financial Services’ ‘Best Interest’ regulation. It was reported that 8 firms have suspended the sale of fee-based annuities in New York until there is further guidance from the regulator. Bill noted, in part, that the new rules present numerous compliance challenges and sets a new (high) bar.
Over the past 2 years, the states have taken disparate approaches to filling what they perceive as a regulatory void when the DOL Fiduciary Rule was struck down by a federal court. At the outset, most states, with the exception of Nevada, took a disclosure-based approach (most notably, NY and NJ), and legislation was the preferred avenue. Now, the trend is toward heightening the standard of care (disclosure appears to be viewed skeptically) through regulation (executive/governor’s branch). Though it varies by state, there at times can be incongruity of approach taken within a state. For example, the New Jersey legislation favored disclosure, whereas Governor Murphy preferred a new standard of care. Though the New Jersey legislation is unlikely to be reintroduced next year, it highlights a risk for market participants when there is inconsistency intrastate and interstate. We are expecting to see draft bills over the coming months for the next session in a small handful of states, but will also keep a (very) close eye on if and when either or both of New Jersey and Massachusetts decide to move forward with their fiduciary duty regulations applicable to broker-dealers and investment advisers. Nevada is also likely to be moving forward with finalization on its proposed fiduciary implementing regulation.
New York’s expanded “best interest” standard took effect on August 1st for annuity contracts and will take effect February 1, 2020, for life insurance policies. In a new decision, the New York Supreme Court calls the expansion “a rational and reasonable movement towards consumer protection.”