Category: fiduciary


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 #65

Posted on October 11, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #65

Unexpected Consequences of Fiduciary Rule

This is my 65th 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 fiduciary and best interest standards of care, as well as the prohibited transaction rules, will impact advisors in some unexpected ways. That is particularly true of investment advice to IRAs. Here is an example.

When plan or IRA assets are held by a custodian, an advisor often has the ability to recommend either transaction-fee (TF) mutual funds or no-transaction fee (NTF) mutual funds. The recommendation of either TF or NTF funds is a fiduciary act for plan assets, and it will be a best interest act for IRA assets—if the advisor or his or her firm receives any payments beyond a … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #64

Posted on October 5, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #64

What Does the Best Interest Standard of Care Require?

This is my 64th 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 best interest standard of care is found, among other places, in the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE). The standard is a combination of ERISA’s prudent man rule and duty of loyalty. In fact, in the prudence portion of the definition, the only change is that the words “prudent man” are changed to “prudent person.” But, that begs the question, what does the prudent person rule require?

Generally speaking, it requires the following:

A prudent process by a hypothetical knowledgeable person who obtains and evaluates the information needed to make a careful and skillful decision.
With regard to investments, … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #63

Posted on September 27, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #63

Policies and Procedures: The Fourth BICE Requirement

This is my 63rd 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 August 31, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued its proposal to extend the transition period for three prohibited transaction exemptions until July 1, 2019. Those exemptions are the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE), the 84-24 exemption (for sale of annuities and insurance products), and the Principal Transactions Exemption. In all likelihood, the DOL will finalize that extension within the next 60 days.

The practical effect will be to both delay the applicability date of the final exemptions until July 1, 2019 and to extend the transition versions of those exemptions until June 30, 2019.

However, the DOL is not … 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 #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 #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 »




Recent Insights

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...

Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #65

Unexpected Consequences of Fiduciary Rule

This is my 65th article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule and exemptions. These articles also...

Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #64

What Does the Best Interest Standard of Care Require?

This is my 64th article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule...