Category: prudent


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 #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 »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #52

Posted on June 19, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent, Service Providers. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #52

The Fiduciary Rule and Exemptions: How Long Will Our Transition Be?

This is my 52nd 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 regulation that dramatically expanded the definition of fiduciary investment advice went into effect on June 9. As a result, virtually all advisers to plans, participants and IRAs are now fiduciaries, or will be as soon as they make the next investment recommendation to one of those qualified accounts. At the same time—June 9, the “transition” transaction exemptions were effective.

If viewed out of context, the fiduciary regulation, as currently written, will continue in effect for years to come. However, the transition exemptions will only apply until December 31, when the full exemptions will apply, … 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 »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #48

Posted on May 25, 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 #48

The Last Word: The Fiduciary Rule Applies on June 9

This is my 48th 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 announced that it will not further delay the application of the fiduciary rule. As a result, the new fiduciary definition and the “transition” exemptions will apply to investment and insurance advice to plans, participants and IRA owners (“Retirement Investors” of “qualified accounts”) on June 9.

When the DOL announced its decision, it also issued additional guidance, in the form of FAQs and a non-enforcement policy.

For the most part, the FAQs were helpful.

For example, they clarify that certain types of information and conversation are educational, rather than fiduciary. However, FAQ #6 appears to have … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #46

Posted on May 10, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #46

How Does an Adviser Know How to Satisfy the Best Interest Standard?

This is my 46th 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.

Beginning on June 9, the new “transition” exemptions will apply to investment and insurance (e.g., annuities) recommendations for IRAs. If an adviser and his supervisory entity (the “financial institution”) are “pure” level fee fiduciaries, there will not be a prohibited transaction under the Internal Revenue Code (so long as the fees are reasonable). Two consequences flow from that. First, the adviser and entity will not need to use the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE), which means that they will not be bound by the best interest standard of care. Second, their services to the … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #44

Posted on April 26, 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 #44

The Basic Structure of the Fiduciary Package (June 9)

This is my 44th 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.

This article focuses on the fiduciary rule; next week I will discuss two of the exemptions, the Best Interest Contract Exemption and 84-24.

As we all know by now, the DOL’s new fiduciary definition applies on June 9. As a result the following recommendations will be fiduciary acts on and after June 9:

Recommendations of investments, investment strategies, insurance and annuities, investment managers, other fiduciaries, distributions and rollovers, and IRA transfers;
Recommendations to ERISA plans, participants or IRA owners.

Fiduciary recommendations to plans and participants (including rollover recommendations) will be subject to ERISA’s prudent man rule and duty of loyalty and, … Read More »




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