DOL compliance is not a push-button challenge to solve

December 12, 2016 by Rachel Schlawin

A close-up of a man typing on a computer learning about DOL compliance

About the author:

Rachel Schlawin

Solutions consultant

Rachel has a background in Advicent’s Training and Business Analysis teams. She has completed all of the coursework towards her CFP and plans to do the same for the ChFC. She genuinely enjoys planning and solving complex problems with financial technology, especially NaviPlan.

By now, this pesky little acronym is receiving eye rolls and the same irritated reaction many people experience when hearing the same song on the radio for the thousandth time. If DOL compliance is not soliciting this reaction from you, I would challenge you to focus more on this industry change because it is not going away. Additionally, it is looming overhead in a dangerously tight timeframe for many firms.

The dangers of seeking a “snap on” solution for DOL compliance

Ever since the industry was first made aware of the imminence of this ruling, I have noticed a familiar trend sweeping throughout the financial services industry that began with an initial phase of confusion. This is where all the questions came in. “What does the DOL fiduciary rule mean? What does it mean specifically for my firm and my day-to-day workflows? How exactly was I not acting as a fiduciary before this ruling? What do I need to change about my processes and what tools do I need?”

The most common question I have heard: “What is the bare minimum my firm can do to be compliant?” Asking this question has led to an observable push for a specific tool to immediately alleviate all DOL worries. Many firms are seeking a “snap on” solution that can be implemented quickly so they can rest assured that they will be compliant in every situation.

Let us take a step back, however, from this line of thinking and consider what it is we know about the financial services industry and regulation — they are often overwhelmingly complex. How is it that pushing a single button could possibly mean the end to concern over DOL compliance?

I would challenge financial professionals and the firms they represent to think on a larger scale when it comes to the fiduciary rule. I think that deep down firms know that snapping on a single tool is simply not going to cut it.

Shifting your focus to a holistic approach

I would argue that DOL compliance must begin with a holistic approach — redesigning your entire workflow and ensuring that you have the systems and checkpoints in place to guarantee a repeatable process that produces deep documentation around the client-advisor relationship. Yes, this may mean purchasing and implementing new technology that fills in gaps and becomes that missing puzzle piece in your workflow. More realistically for many, this means reassessing and implementing an entire process centered around your overall DOL strategy.

At Advicent, we have embraced this approach. We realize that adding on one of our financial planning tools is not going to be the magic answer for any firm out there. This is why we have developed The Compliance Blueprint, a comprehensive guide for our partners through their end-to-end implementation of a full-on DOL workflow strategy.

Because we view our relationships with clients as a partnership, our end goal is not to sell software and make a quick side exit. We want to work with firms by integrating all the bits and pieces of each unique firm to that DOL strategy, as well as support firms through the entire process of planning, implementing, and monitoring the software’s success. Much like an advisor must act in the best interest of their clients, it is our “fiduciary” commitment to our partners to go above and beyond that simple, one-time product sale.

Click here to learn more about partnering with Advicent and our “fiduciary” commitment to your DOL compliance success.