Category: DOL Activity


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 #61

Posted on September 11, 2017, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent, Service Providers. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #61

The Fiduciary Rule, Distributions and Rollovers

This is my 61st 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.

Now that it seems likely that the fiduciary rule and the transition exemptions will continue “as is” until at least July 1, 2019, it’s time to re-visit the fiduciary rule and the requirements of the transition exemptions. This article focuses on the requirements for recommending that a participant take a distribution and roll it over to an IRA with a financial institution and its advisor. (Practically speaking, the financial institutions will likely be broker-dealers, RIA firms, and banks and trust departments). For ease of reading, this article uses “advisor” to refer to both the entity and the individual.

In order to … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule # #60

Posted on September 6, 2017, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule # #60

What the Tibble Decision Means to Advisers

This is my 60th 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.

On June 9th, almost all advisers to retirement plans became fiduciaries—or, more accurately, those that were not already serving as fiduciary advisers became fiduciaries. While most of my Angles posts have been about the fiduciary rule and prohibited transaction exemptions, this article is about the impact of the latest Tibble decision (Tibble v. Edison Int’l, No. CV 07-5359 SVW (AGRx), 2017 WL 3523737 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 16, 2017)) on the development and delivery of fiduciary investment advice to 401(k) plans and ERISA-governed 403(b) plans.

As background, the Tibble case, through a series of decisions, held that it was a breach … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #59

Posted on August 22, 2017, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #59

What Plans and Arrangements Are Covered by the Fiduciary Rule

This is my 59th 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.

I continue to be asked about which “plans” are covered by the new DOL fiduciary rules, and which are not. It’s more complicated than you might think, in the sense that some of the covered plans may surprise you. Fortunately, three of our attorneys, Bruce Ashton, Elise Norcini and Josh Waldbeser have written an article that explains “what’s in and what’s out” in terms of the plans and other investment accounts that are covered by the fiduciary rule (and therefore by the prohibited transaction exemptions). A full reprint of their June 7, 2017 article follows:

“With the … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #58

Posted on August 14, 2017, by Fred Reish in 408(b)(2), DOL Activity, fiduciary, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #58

Recommendations to Contribute to a Plan or IRA

This is my 58th 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 Angles article #56, I discussed the DOL’s position that recommendations of contributions to plans and IRAs were fiduciary advice. However, a week after that article was posted on my blog, the DOL reversed its position. The new guidance is found in the DOL’s “Conflict of Interest FAQs (408b-2 Disclosure Transition Period, Recommendations to Increase Contributions and Plan Participation).”

In the newly issued FAQs, the DOL posed the following question:

Q2. Plans and their service providers often encourage plan participants to make contributions to the plan at levels that maximize the value of employer matching contributions or to … 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 #56

Posted on July 31, 2017, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #56

The Department of Labor has reversed its position on the issues discussed in the article below. Angles article #58 explains the changes.

Recommendations of Contributions as Fiduciary Advice

This is my 56th 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 on the fiduciary rules and exemptions focuses on a number of issues that became apparent as financial institutions and advisers work to comply with the new requirements. One of these, which is addressed in the RFI, but which has not been generally discussed, is that a recommendation of a contribution, or of increased contributions, to plans and IRAs is a fiduciary act. As a result, if the recommended contribution causes higher compensation … 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 #54

Posted on July 6, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #54

The DOL’s RFI and Possible Changes to BICE

This is my 54th 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 issued a Request for Information (RFI) about the fiduciary regulation and the prohibited transition exemptions. The questions in the RFI indicate the issues of greatest interest to the DOL and, in some cases, are suggestive of possible outcomes. This article looks at two issues concerning BICE–the Best Interest Contract Exemption.

The first question is about a possible extension of the transition rules, now scheduled to expire on December 31 of this year. The DOL asks:

“Would a delay in the January 1, 2018, applicability date of the provisions in the BIC Exemption, Principal Transactions … 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 »




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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...

Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #61

The Fiduciary Rule, Distributions and Rollovers

This is my 61st article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule and exemptions. These articles...

Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule # #60

What the Tibble Decision Means to Advisers

This is my 60th article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule and exemptions. These...