The fiduciary rule not only has a storied history, but also there’s plenty of speculation about what will happen as the Trump administration examines it.


Here’s a timeline:



  • The Securities and Exchange Act of 1394 created the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • The 1940 Investment Advisers Act began regulating investment advisors, wrote Mark Schoeff Jr. for Investment News.
  • In 1999, “the SEC [proposed] a rule that would exempt brokers’ fee-based accounts from the fiduciary requirements of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, Schoeff wrote.



  • In 2005, the SEC re-proposed the 1999 rule. The new version was called the Merrill Lynch rule and would exempt “fee-based brokerage accounts from the fiduciary requirements of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940,k” Schoeff wrote.
  • In 2007, “the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Merrill Lynch rule,” he wrote. This meant “brokers must adhere to fiduciary duty when working with fee-based brokerage accounts.



  • In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank law. It “[gave] the SEC the authority to promulgate a uniform fiduciary duty standard for retail investment advice that is no less stringent than the 1940 Act,” Schoeff wrote.
  • Later that year, the Labor Department released a rule “designed to limit conflicts of interest for financial advisers working with clients in retirement accounts.”
  • In 2015, Obama asked the DOL to make progress on its fiduciary rule. It does so in April and a raging debate ensued.
  • In 2016, the DOL released the final rule. “Full compliance will be phased in and won’t be required until Jan. 1, 2018,” Schoeff wrote.
  • In 2017, newly inaugurated President Donald Trump orders “a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules,” wrote Justin Sink, Elizabeth Dexheimer, and Katherine Chiglinsky for Bloomberg Politics, and signed an executive action.
  • In a February 2017 memo, Trump asked the DOL “to review the investment advice rule to determine, among other things, whether it prevents some retirement savers from obtaining advice, or threatens to disrupt the industry with a flurry of lawsuits against firms,” wrote Schoeff for a different Investment News story. “The memo [did] not specifically ask for a delay in the rule’s implementation, but that’s where things are headed.”


What could be next:


  • After the administration evaluates the fiduciary rule – a possible delay of six months – “the rule [could] be revised if not outright replaced with something more to Wall Street’s liking,” Schoeff wrote.
  • It could take a year or more for the Trump administration to replace the fiduciary rule.
  • In the meantime, stakeholders will likely file lawsuits and companies will likely independently work to “satisfy the spirit of the law, if not its letter,” Schoeff wrote.