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The Fiduciary Journey – Retirement advice will never be the same

May 6, 2016

Investment News | As the room filled to capacity on April 6 with celebratory lawmakers and advocates awaiting the Labor Department’s final fiduciary rule, the champion of the measure, Phyllis Borzi, stands quietly at the back.

But minutes before the agency unveils its controversial regulation raising investment advice standards for retirement accounts, the scene surrounding the assistant Labor secretary turns into a kind of receiving line at a wedding reception. Ms. Borzi cannot stay inconspicuous among the people who know her central role in reaching this pinnacle hour.

“Enjoy the moment, Phyllis,” says one well-wisher at the Center for American Progress in Washington that day.

Ms. Borzi says nothing. Instead, she smiles behind her thick, round eyeglasses, and leans in for hug.

Weeks later, 69-year-old Ms. Borzi choked up when recounting her team’s efforts to reach that day — which unfolded over a long, slow and often arduous six-year journey. As the main architect of the so-called DOL fiduciary rule, which requires financial advisers to 401(k) and individual retirement accounts to act in their clients’ best interests, she is credited with pushing through a nearly unprecedented wall of opposition.That opposition came from such powerful industry groups as the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Financial Services Institute.

But she never backed down.

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Austin Gross
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