Category: Broker-Dealers


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #69

Posted on November 7, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #69

Compensation Risks for Broker-Dealers and RIAs

This is my 69th 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

While the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) is greatly simplified during the transition period, there is more than meets the eye, and broker-dealers and RIAs need to consider whether their practices for compensating advisors encourage advice to retirement investors that may not be in the best interest of those investors. Certain compensation practices are more risky than others. This article discuss some of the arrangements that pose the greatest risks.

As background, transition BICE requires that broker-dealers and RIAs adhere to the Impartial Conduct Standards when making investment recommendations to plans, participants, and IRA owners . . . where there is … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #68

Posted on November 2, 2017, by Fred Reish in Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA, SEC, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #68

Recommendations of Distributions: The SEC Joins the Fray

This is my 68th article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule and exemptions. These articles also cover the DOL’s FAQs interpreting the regulation and exemptions and related developments in the securities laws.

In 2013, FINRA put its stake in the ground on recommendations of distributions and rollovers when it issued Regulatory Notice 13-45. The DOL has, with the development of its fiduciary regulation over the past few years—which became applicable on June 9 of this year—taken a similar, but more demanding position. However, the DOL’s guidance has more teeth than FINRA’s, because it is backed by a standard of care—the prudent man rule and duty of loyalty—and by the prohibited transaction rules in ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. Recently, the SEC has joined the fray with the issuance … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #66

Posted on October 18, 2017, by Fred Reish in 408(b)(2), Broker-Dealers, fiduciary, prudent, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA, Service Providers. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #66

Concerns About 408(b)(2) Disclosures

This is my 66th 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

Because of the change in the definition of fiduciary advice (which applied on June 9, 2017), all advisors to retirement plans need to review their prior 408(b)(2) disclosures to see if changes are necessary. That particularly applies to broker-dealers and life insurance brokers and agents.

The first level of review should be to determine whether their prior 408(b)(2) disclosures to ERISA retirement plans affirmatively stated that they were not fiduciaries to the plans that they served. If so, those broker-dealers, insurance brokers and agents need to send out new 408(b)(2) disclosures that affirmatively disclose their new-found fiduciary status (assuming that their advisors … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #62

Posted on September 20, 2017, by Fred Reish in 408(b)(2), Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, Recordkeeper. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #62

Is It Possible To Be An Advisor Without Being A Fiduciary?

This is my 62nd 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

Under the new fiduciary definition (that applied on June 9), an investment “suggestion” is fiduciary advice. That includes suggestions about a range of issues, including investments, insurance products, investment strategies, other investment advisors and managers, IRA transfers, and plan distributions.

Because of the breadth of the definition, it is almost impossible to be an advisor to a plan without becoming a fiduciary. Under the old rules advisors would provide investment information that, at least arguably, was not fiduciary investment advice. However, under the new definition, where an advisor provides information about investments, it’s possible, perhaps even … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #57

Posted on August 8, 2017, by Fred Reish in 408(b)(2), BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #57

DOL FAQs on 408(b)(2) Fiduciary Disclosures

This is my 57th 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

The Department of Labor has issued a new set of “Conflict of Interest FAQs (408(b)(2) Disclosure Transition Period, Recommendations to Increase Contributions and Plan Participation).”

This article discusses the DOL’s relief from the 408(b)(2) requirement that a “change” notice be given for advisers who became fiduciaries to ERISA-governed retirement plans because of the June 9th expansion of the definition of fiduciary advice.

Before getting into the details of the relief, let’s look at what the DOL’s FAQs did not do. If an adviser (or his or her supervisory entity) was a fiduciary, functional or acknowledged, before June 9th, but did not give … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #55

Posted on July 18, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, Registered Investment Advisers. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #55

The DOL’s RFI and the Recommendation of Annuities

This is my 55th 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

The Department of Labor’s Request for Information (RFI) on the fiduciary rule and exemptions does a good job of focusing on the key issues for advisers and their financial institutions (e.g., broker-dealers and RIA firms). That is, the questions in the RFI cover most of the issues that prove to be compliance problems for our clients, in the sense that the requirements were difficult to satisfy or expensive to implement.

In addition, the RFI also highlights an issue for independent insurance agents, which is that, in the exemptions scheduled to apply on January 1, 2018, the sale of fixed … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #53

Posted on June 28, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #53

The Fiduciary Rule and Discretionary Investment Management

This is my 53rd 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

In recent conversations I have learned that many broker-dealers and RIAs do not understand how the prohibited transaction rules and exemptions (and, particularly, the Best Interest Contract Exemption) apply differently to discretionary accounts and non-discretionary accounts. This article discusses some of those differences.

One similarity, though, is that ERISA’s prudent man rule and duty of loyalty apply for both discretionary and non-discretionary advice to retirement plans and participants.

However, ERISA does not generally govern investment advice to IRAs. As a result, absent the need for a prohibited transaction exemption, advisers to IRAs will not be governed by fiduciary/best interest standard of … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #51

Posted on June 12, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #51

Recommendations to Transfer IRAs

This is my 51st 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

The new fiduciary regulation includes, among its definitions of fiduciary advice, a recommendation to an IRA owner to transfer the IRA from another firm. As a result, the recommendation, if accepted by the IRA owner, will automatically result in a prohibited transaction. That is because, if the recommendation is accepted and the IRA is transferred, the adviser will obviously make more money than if it were not. That is a financial conflict of interest that is a prohibited transaction under the Internal Revenue Code.

Fortunately, there is an exemption, or exception, called the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE). However, BICE comes with conditions … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #50

Posted on June 6, 2017, 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 #50

The Fourth Impartial Conduct Standard

This is my 50th 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

When the Department of Labor announced that the fiduciary rule and the transition exemptions would apply on June 9, it also issued a non-enforcement policy and a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Answers. The FAQs are titled “Conflict of Interest FAQs (Transition Period).”

For the most part, the FAQs are benign and helpful. However, FAQ 6 raises some significant issues for broker-dealers and RIA firms. In relevant part, FAQ 6 states:

During the transition period, the Department expects financial institutions to adopt such policies and procedures as they reasonably conclude are necessary to ensure that advisers comply with the … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #49

Posted on May 31, 2017, by Fred Reish in 408(b)(2), Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA, Service Providers. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #49

The Requirement to Disclose Fiduciary Status

This is my 49th 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 and related developments in the securities laws.

When the new fiduciary rule applies on June 9, it will convert most non-fiduciary advisers into fiduciaries.

While there is not a disclosure requirement for new fiduciary advisers to IRAs, there is for these newly minted fiduciary advisers to plans. But it’s not part of the new regulation. Instead the requirement is found in the 408(b)(2) regulation which was effective in 2012.

As background, that regulation required that service providers to ERISA-governed retirement plans, including advisers, make written disclosures to plan fiduciaries of their services, compensation and “status.” The status requirement was that service providers disclose if they were fiduciaries under ERISA … Read More »




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