“You Might Die Younger” Without the Fiduciary Rule

in Personal Capital News by

The White House National Economic Council Director (and former number two at Goldman Sachs, whose stock price went up 5% on the day he made his announcements) Gary Cohn said this about the Fiduciary Rule in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “We think it is a bad rule. It is a bad rule for consumers. This is like putting only healthy food on the menu because unhealthy food tastes good but you still shouldn’t eat it because you might die younger.”

Encouraging people to die younger is one way to solve our retirement crisis. But we think a better way is to encourage people to save responsibly and invest well, so they’re able to live a long life in financial security.

The Wall Street Journal says, “The Fiduciary Rule, which was unveiled by the Labor Department last spring and is due to take effect in April, aims to hold brokers and financial advisers who work with tax-advantaged retirement savings to a fiduciary standard as opposed to the previous suitability standard. Under the fiduciary standard, advisers overseeing about $3 trillion in U.S. retirement savings would be required to work in their clients’ best interest and generally avoid the conflicts that can arise with commission-based compensation.”

It’s inarguable that we should act in the best interest of our customers. And, unsurprisingly, that’s what customers want, too! An overwhelming majority of the 1.3 million registered users of our financial advisory software and services that we’ve spoken to express a vital interest in being treated this way.

Equally troubling, the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Labor is not known for upholding the work of the Labor Department. As reported by the New York Times, he “was working at a law firm owned by a famous mob lawyer and casino owner whom the Department of Labor accused of squandering $25 million from his union workers’ person funds on sham investments…[he] told the jury it was not his boss’ fault for not paying back the money – it was overzealous regulators in Washington…’We should not be required to pay for the mistakes of the Department of Labor.'”

Underfunded retirement is the most serious financial disaster waiting to befall both current and future retirees and the nation itself, because the burden to support people in retirement will ultimately fall on all of us as taxpayers. And it’s tragic that providers of retirement accounts, who benefit from tax advantages bestowed by Congress to encourage retirement savings, so often charge high fees and put participants in inappropriate investments for the benefit of their own bottom lines.

Personal Capital already is and always has been a fiduciary of its customers’ money. We offer the world’s best personal finance management and financial planning software to anyone with an Internet connection or mobile phone. Importantly, we also offer human advice deeply integrated with our software. Our mission is simple: “Better financial lives through technology and people.”

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Bill Harris

Bill Harris

Bill Harris is the founder of Personal Capital. He has spent 25 years building financial technology, notably serving as CEO of Intuit and PayPal. He is the founder of several financial technology companies and has served on the boards of numerous technology firms, such as SuccessFactors, RSA Security, Macromedia, and Answers.com.


  1. Gregg

    Thank you for your post. It seems like common sense, that if you are trusting someone with your money, they should put your interest ahead of theirs. There’s really no good argument against this.

  2. Greg Gates Jr

    Thank you for your fiduciary standards and for spreading the word!! I am an educator who just yesterday made a silly SnapChat & Instagram story about this serious subject @CASHCHATSNAP.

    It’s sooo important to inform the public about fiduciary responsibilities and promoting FINANCIAL LITERACY!! Thank you for Personal Capital & your work.

  3. James burleson

    I never want to do business with anyone or service that are not will to give full financial or business disclosure!

  4. Stuart Hays

    We have move this country toward a destination of selflessly serving the needs of others instead of self. I lean conservative in my views but I know businesses will prosper because individuals who are employees will be fulfilled because deep down we all want to do the right thing. Sometimes we have to have rails for the train to stay on track allowing all to realize that business interests and individual personal needs are not mutually exclusive.

  5. Christie D.

    I completely agree with you. The consumers hire financial advisers because they are not an expert in the financial business. The consumers expect and should receive advice that will be in their best interest. Gary Cohn statement is ridiculous. Why would any consumer want advice that isn’t in their best interest? I support the Fiduciary Rule.

  6. Anonymous

    I support your efforts to prevent the Trump Administration from eliminating the Fiduciary Rule.
    As we Baby Boomers continue to age, many will experience reduced cognitive abilities and make us easy prey for unscrupulous financial advisers.
    I am a registered Independent living in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
    Jim Kelley

  7. Bill Godfrey

    Agree with the sensible info in your blog and hole the Washingtonians see the light.

  8. Polly Williams

    I think keeping the fiduciary rule is very important. I was in the State sponsored saving system before it was enacted and saw how a lot of people were paying much too much for their investments because there were salespeople with expensive products selling them things they shouldn’t have.

  9. Jeri P

    I appreciate this article Mr. Harris. I absolutely agree with the fiduciary rule.
    As a senior citizen with retirement funds I expect my financial consultant to consider my best interest (not their bottom line).
    It is logical and makes so much sense. Otherwise they are only bandits, trying to rob me.
    Thank you for assisting us to keep this Fiduciary Rule!!

  10. Scott Schumacker

    I’m not sure what the Trump administration and the Labor Department is thinking with this one! Putting the Customer First is the right approach, which will cut down putting commissions first and bad behavior by the brokerage community. If this common sense law is changed to give the brokerage community the freedom to offer bad advice and higher commission products without any recourse for the consumer, trump has lost my vote in 2021.
    Scott Schumacker
    Concerned citizen

  11. Dennis Callan

    We do not need some big agency in Washington to tell us with whom to do business. If I thought a company was not acting in my best interest, I would not do business with them. I appreciate your concern but the market generally does a good job in sorting out the smucks of the world. Adam Smith was correct.

    • john fru

      Wow, Mr. Callan. I was reading Mr Harris’ email and blog AND comments, and thought I’d disappeared down the rabbit hole! Citing the DOL as “our protectors” just makes me laugh. And gee, who ELSE might benefit from the fiduciary rule? Trial lawyers, maybe?

      I’ve been seriously thinking of pulling the trigger and placing funds with personal capital. This sort of thinking gives me pause. All for free speech, though. Less regulation, in general, is more.

  12. Jeremy Smith

    dodd frank is a terrible bloated garbage bill that is more about controlling were companies can buy raw materials than protecting anyone’s retirement. Investment companies (like personal capital) will away find ways to screw customers regardless of any legislation that is what they do. Bill Harris I hope you do die younger so we do not have to license to your political views while you are screwing people.

  13. Chris

    Relying on the government to police the companies we choose to do business with makes consumers lazier and less informed (aka dumber). Increased regulation gives the public a false sense of security. It makes companies appear safe and equal when they are not. Fiduciary rules can be very subjective. Thus giving credence to financial institutions that are not as good as others. Bill, Personal Capital among a few others have done a great job of educating the public regarding low cost consistent investing. That is your core business. Do you really need the government to do your job for you?

  14. W. Deason

    Unfortunately as I am reading the majority of the comments, most are agreeing that advisors should be acting in the best interest of the client and on the surface that sounds good. Unfortunately you have not done the math or understand what you will be paying in fees should you think this new piece of legislature is a good idea. As per the liberal playbook this law would crush consumers retirement accounts and would distribute your money to the big companies handling your money. It’s just another form of re-distributions.

    On the surface of this law sounds great, but I urge you to do the math. Right off the bat you will pay 1.5% in fees on your entire portfolio balance per year and that includes new cash you invest in the market. So for example….
    Your current portfolio balance is $100k and you invest a total of $20k in new cash in your account for the year.
    You will pay a total of $1440 in account fees. And let’s say you grow your portfolio by a good average rate of 8% over the year.
    Your balance at the end of the year would be $128,000. And in total fees you would end up paying $1536 in account fees….

    So at the end of each day you didn’t pay 1.2% on your money……NOPE……..
    You paid 19.2% to grow your overall account by $8000

    So please read the rules and don’t fall trap to the liberal re investment ploys that truly only make others rich and are designed to make sure you don’t.

  15. Erlinda

    More government, more regulation: the DOL Fiduciary Rule and Dodd Frank are nothing more than nanny society. Bill Harris, now that you made your millions from Intuit and PayPal, why don’t you do us all a favor and step down from PC and run for Congress instead? Why do CEOs, particularly from tech firms, think that all of a sudden they are now the nannies of their customers? As CEO Bill Harris, why don’t you laser focus your efforts at making PC a terrific financial adviser than shifting part of your responsibility to the government? We already know you have a fiduciary responsibility to your customers before the DOL rule so why do you advocate for more?

  16. Larry Pribble

    I am falling in the camp that doesn’t support need for Dodd/Frank or Fiduciary rules. I like your software and your business model, but I don’t want heavy government regulation protection that could be harmful in other ways for smaller institutions because of heavy regulation. If a bank/brokerage is unwilling to provide ME full information or I felt like they weren’t working in my best interest, I would switch. I wouldn’t necessarily switch because it isn’t in form that currently works for your software. I would look to you to provide banks/brokerages that would work the way Personal Capital wants and then I could decide if I drop Wells Fargo,Chase, Scottrade etc and let them know my intentions. They would have to decide if there is enough business justification for them to provide full disclosure via Personal Capital’s software. I say let the free market work.

  17. Anonymous

    Seems interesting that There was no comparison to the commissions cost to investors given similar investments – most times you can’t even figure them out because they bury them and they are usually higher then fiduciary. Second where is the 1.5% rate come from. If you shop the rates are much better then that particularly on personal capital and others. And by the way the reason the change is being recommended is because often the brokers make more money then the investor does. Something wrong with that. Secondly most if not all of the time the gov gets involved is because business to often harms the public. Look at our environment if the gov did not intervene we would be like China who has to wear masks. If they acted in the best interest of the client there would be no legistration


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