MetLife CEO Likens Retirement Rule to Chevy Dealer Pitching Ford

MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, warned of possible disruption from a Labor Department proposal designed to make sure that clients seeking retirement products get the best advice.

While that plan may sound reasonable “conceptually,” people should consider a “real world” scenario, Chief Executive Officer Steve Kandarian said Wednesday at a conference in New York.

Brokers and insurance agents would have to put clients’ interests ahead of their own, under an Obama administration plan from April. Kandarian likened the proposal to requiring a car dealership that sells Chevrolets to guide a potential customer to a Ford outlet.

“Well, there’s not going to be a lot of Chevy dealers, or at least guys or women selling Chevys anymore,” he said.

The CEO said that customers know they can shop for the best deal and that in the insurance industry, companies are already required to provide disclosure on compensation for agents, and when the firm is offering proprietary products.

“It’s not as though the consumer doesn’t have an opportunity to understand the landscape,” he said.

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