Category: BICE


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #29

Posted on December 9, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #29

Capturing Rollovers: What Information is Needed?

This is my 29th article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule and exemptions. These articles also cover the DOL’s FAQs interpreting the regulation and exemptions.

The Department of Labor’s fiduciary regulation provides that a recommendation to take a distribution from a plan, and to roll the money over to an IRA, is a fiduciary act. As a result, the recommendation must be prudent and cannot result in a prohibited transaction. However, a prohibited transaction almost automatically occurs, since an adviser typically makes higher fees in the IRA than from the plan (even where the adviser is providing services to the plan). As a result, an exemption is needed, even if the recommendation is otherwise prudent. Fortunately, the Level Fee Fiduciary provision of the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) provides the framework for … Read More »


The Presidential Election: Now What?

Posted on November 29, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA. Comments Off on The Presidential Election: Now What?

One of the consequences of the presidential election is that the future of the fiduciary rule (and the exemptions) is uncertain. What does that mean to advisers . . . regardless of whether they are representatives of RIAs or broker-dealers, or for that matter, if they are independent insurance agents?

The answer is that nobody knows. However, this article outlines the most likely alternatives. Those are:

The rule will be killed by regulation or legislation.
The rule will be implemented “as is.”
The rule and the exemptions will be modified.

Only the second alternative (the “as is” option) could realistically be implemented by the current deadline of April 10. But, that’s the alternative that is, in my opinion, the least likely to happen. While it is low probability, it is high risk in the sense that broker-dealers and RIAs must be in compliance by April … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #28

Posted on November 17, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #28

What About Rollovers that Aren’t Recommended?

This is my twenty-eighth article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule and exemptions. These articles also cover the DOL’s FAQs interpreting the regulation and exemptions.

Under the DOL’s fiduciary regulation, the recommendation of a plan distribution and IRA rollover will be fiduciary advice, subject to the best interest standard of care and the prohibited transaction rules. But, what if a participant takes a distribution and rolls over into an IRA with an adviser . . . without a recommendation by the adviser?

As background, there are three ways that a participant can make a decision to take a distribution and roll over into an IRA. The first is “unsolicited.” In other words, the participant made the decision without any input from an adviser or recordkeeper. The second is “educated.” Distribution education involves providing … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #27

Posted on November 8, 2016, by Fred Reish in 408(b)(2), BICE, DOL Activity, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #27

The Definition of Compensation

This is my twenty-seventh article about interesting observations concerning the fiduciary rule and exemptions.

As the readers of these articles know, one impact of the new fiduciary rule is that compensation paid to Financial Institutions and advisers must be reasonable. Reasonable, in turn, is a function of a transparent and competitive marketplace. However, where the competitive market does not work (for example, where compensation is not transparent), customary compensation may not be reasonable.

But, this article is not about reasonable compensation. Instead, the question is, what is “compensation?”

The Department of Labor partially answered that question in the fiduciary regulation:

“The term ‘fee or other compensation, direct or indirect’ means . . . any explicit fee or compensation for the advice received by the person (or by an affiliate) from any source, and any other fee or compensation received … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #26

Posted on November 1, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, Service Providers. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #26

Reasonable Compensation for IRAs: When and How Long?

This is my twenty-sixth article about interesting observations concerning the fiduciary rule and exemptions.

This article is a little different than most of my previous posts. However, it is equally as important. To get to the point, I am writing this article about reasonable compensation for advice to IRAs because of a common misunderstanding about the requirement.

In the last month or two, I have seen a number of articles and heard several comments to the effect that it will be difficult to determine reasonable compensation for IRAs because the rule is so new. Stated a little differently, the point is that the reasonable compensation requirement for IRAs will first become effective on April 10, 2017. That is not correct.

Section 4975(c)(1)(C) provides that the “furnishing of . . . services . . . between a … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #25

Posted on October 25, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #25

Reasonable Compensation Versus Neutral Factors

This is my twenty-fifth article covering interesting observations about the fiduciary rule and exemptions.

In my last post, I wrote about the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) and the requirements for “neutral factors” and “differential compensation” between “reasonably designed investment categories.” As I pointed out, the purpose of neutral factors is to determine the relationship of compensation between different categories of investments and services. In other words, neutral factors don’t establish a dollar amount of compensation, but instead they are used for determining the relative compensation between different reasonably designed investment categories. Think of it as evaluating degree of difficulty in terms of work, complexity, value, etc.

But that begs the question, if neutral factors are used to establish the ratio of compensation, how is the compensation determined?

The best way to approach that question is to look at … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #24

Posted on October 20, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #24

The Meaning of Differential Compensation Based on Neutral Factors

This is my twenty-fourth article covering interesting observations about the fiduciary rule and exemptions.

The DOL’s fiduciary “package” consists of a regulation that expands the definition of advice and exemptions, or exceptions, from the prohibited transaction (PT) rules. If a recommendation by a fiduciary adviser does not constitute a PT (e.g., does not affect the adviser’s compensation, or that of an affiliate, and does not cause a payment from a third party), no exemption is needed. However, if the fiduciary recommendation causes a PT, an exemption must be used – and most often that will be BICE – the Best Interest Contract Exemption. Therein lies the rub . . . the compensation of the financial institution (e.g., the broker-dealer) and the adviser are regulated by BICE.

Under BICE, the compensation of broker-dealers can be … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #22

Posted on October 4, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #22

This is my twenty-second article about interesting observations concerning the fiduciary rule and exemptions.

While the application of the new fiduciary rule and prohibited transaction exemptions to broker dealers and investment advisers is fairly obvious — if not fully understood, there has been little in the way of discussion about its application to banks. This post highlights some of those issues.

In a prior Angles article, I talked about how the fiduciary rule applies to referrals of advisers and how the prohibited transaction rules impact solicitors’ fees (see Angles No. 12). There is a similar issue for banks. For example, it appears to be a fairly common practice for employees at bank branches to recommend that customers set up IRAs and put the money into certificates of deposit, and for the bank employees to receive bonuses for the IRAs investments in the … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #21

Posted on September 28, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #21

This is my twenty-first article covering interesting observations about the fiduciary rule and exemptions.

While most of the requirements in the new fiduciary rule and exemptions are “old news” for retirement plan advisers, they may require significant changes for advisers to IRAs. For example, ERISA’s prudent man rule and the new best interest standard of care both require that fiduciary advisers (which will include virtually all advisers to plans, participants and IRA owners when the rules are applicable on April 10, 2017) engage in a prudent process to develop recommendations. Using variable annuities as an example, here are some of the important steps in a prudent process: evaluating whether the insurance company will be able to satisfy its commitments in the future (based on today’s information); a determination of whether the expenses for the variable annuity contract, including expenses of the … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #18

Posted on September 7, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #18

As advisers who work with ERISA-governed retirement plans already know, an adviser’s compensation cannot be more than a reasonable amount. Because of the new fiduciary advice regulation, and the associated prohibited transaction exemptions (84-24 and the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE)), that requirement is being imposed on investment and insurance recommendations to IRAs. Interestingly, under the Internal Revenue Code (section 4975(d)(2)), it is already a prohibited transaction for an adviser to earn more than reasonable compensation from an IRA. However, because of lack of enforcement by the IRS, that requirement is often overlooked. As evidence of the fact that it is overlooked, think about the lack of benchmarking or similar services to help advisers determine if their compensation from an IRA is reasonable. But, that is about to change.

To appreciate the “reasonable compensation” requirement, a person needs to understand that … Read More »




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