Survey: New Rules Threaten Small-Business Retirement Plans

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 08:17 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Many small business workers' retirement plans would take a punishing hit under new Labor Department rules, a business-backed survey warns.

New Labor Department regulations relate to a "fiduciary rule" that is intended to keep investment advisers from profiting at the expense of those whose retirement funds they handle, The Hill reports.

But according to a poll for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the rules would backfire.

The survey of about 600 "retirement-plan decision-makers" at businesses with up to 500 workers is evidence that the fiduciary rule would "only impede the ability of small firms to offer their employees retirement-plan accounts, thus hindering American workers from saving for a reliable future," Javier Palomarez, the group's president, said in an introduction to the poll results.

The regulations are expected to bar retirement plan providers and the advisers who sell retirement plans from helping employers select and monitor funds in their retirement plans, the chamber says.

That would force employers to perform the duties themselves, pay a third party to do them, or simply stop offering plans.

The poll found that almost 30 percent of small businesses said they'd probably choose the last option; nearly half of the firms said they'd likely reduce matching contributions.

Financial sector critics three years ago blasted proposed regulations at that time, saying  brokers would have a harder time working with average investors' IRAs if they were saddled with unnecessary restrictions, The Hill noted.

Businesses remain worried about the revamped version, The Hill reported.

"While the [Labor Department's] actions are well-intended, the reality is that the outcome of its proposal will likely do more harm than good at a time when Americans cannot afford to lose a single dime of their future savings," the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association said Wednesday, The Hill reported.

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