Category: Uncategorized


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 #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 #42

Posted on April 13, 2017, by Fred Reish in Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #42

Rollovers under the DOL’s Final Rule

This is my 42nd 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 April 7, 2017 the DOL issued its final regulation on the extension of the applicability date for the fiduciary definition and the related exemptions. This article discusses the impact of those changes on fiduciary status for recommendations to plan participants to take distributions and roll over to IRAs.

In its guidance, the DOL extended the applicability date of the new fiduciary definition from April 10 to June 9, but did not otherwise modify the definition. Since the fiduciary rule defined a recommendation to take a plan distribution as fiduciary advice, any recommendation to take a distribution and rollover to an … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #40

Posted on March 15, 2017, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, Registered Investment Advisers, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #40

New Rule, Old Rule: What Should Advisers Do Now?

This is my 40th 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 clear that the applicability date of the new fiduciary regulation will be delayed, many advisers (including broker-dealers and RIA firms) may heave a sigh of relief. However, while some relief is justified, that does not mean that their services are not governed, in many cases, by the “old” fiduciary regulation. (By “old” rule, I refer to the DOL regulation that defines fiduciary advice and that has been in effect for decades.) With all the attention that has been devoted to fiduciary status and prohibited transactions, it is possible, perhaps even probable, that the … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #39

Posted on March 7, 2017, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #39

FINRA Regulatory Notice 13-45: Guidance on Distributions and Rollovers

This is my 39th 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.

Even though the DOL fiduciary rule is being delayed, other regulators have indicated their interests in protecting participants from inappropriate recommendations to take plan distributions and roll over to IRAs.

FINRA, which oversees broker-dealers, addressed rollover recommendations to participants in Regulatory Notice 13-45. In describing the purpose of the notice, FINRA said:

“FINRA is issuing this Notice to remind firms of their responsibilities when (1) recommending a rollover or transfer of assets in an employer-sponsored retirement plan to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or (2) marketing IRAs and associated services.”

FINRA noted that:

“A broker-dealer’s recommendation that … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #19

Posted on September 13, 2016, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #19

This is my nineteenth article about interesting observations about the fiduciary regulation and the exemptions.

In an earlier post (Angles #16), I described how advisers could use the “hire me” approach to explain their services and fees without becoming a fiduciary for that purpose. Generally stated, under that approach, an adviser could explain his services and fees, but could not discuss specific products or platforms. In other words, if the adviser “suggested” specific products or platforms, the adviser would become a fiduciary even under “hire me.” The DOL explained that result in the preamble to the fiduciary regulation:

“An adviser can recommend that a retirement investor enter into an advisory relationship with the adviser without acting as a fiduciary. But when the adviser recommends, for example, that the investor pull money out of a plan or invest in a particular … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #13

Posted on July 26, 2016, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #13

This is my thirteenth article about interesting observations “hidden” in the fiduciary regulation and the exemptions.

It is not clear under current rules whether “suggesting” investment policies is a fiduciary act. In that vein, it’s also not clear if providing a sample investment policy statement (IPS) is a fiduciary act. However, that is about to change.

When the new fiduciary regulation applies—on April 10, 2017, the recommendation of investment policies, strategies or portfolio composition will be fiduciary activities. As the DOL says in the preamble to the fiduciary regulation:

Specifically, the final rule includes text that describes management of securities or other investment property, as including, among other things, recommendations on investment policies or strategies, portfolio composition, or recommendations on distributions, including rollovers, from a plan or IRA.

And, a mere suggestion to use certain investment policies can result in fiduciary … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #11

Posted on June 28, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #11

This is my eleventh article about interesting observations “hidden” in the fiduciary regulation and the exemptions.

ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code limit compensation for services to plans and IRAs to “reasonable” amounts. Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 84-24 and the Best Interest Contact Exemption (BICE) also limit compensation to reasonable amounts.

While the concept of reasonable compensation is old-hat for advisers and service providers to ERISA qualified retirement plans, it has not, by and large, been used in the IRA world. As a result, some people are asking . . . what is reasonable compensation? The DOL explained the concept in a preamble:

“The obligation to pay no more than reasonable compensation to service providers is long recognized under ERISA and the Code. ERISA section 408(b)(2) and Code section 4975(d)(2) require that services arrangements involving plans and IRAs result in no … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #10

Posted on June 21, 2016, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #10

This is my tenth article about interesting observations “hidden” in the fiduciary regulation and the exemptions.

When the new fiduciary advice regulation is applicable on April 10, 2017, a recommendation to a participant to take a distribution and rollover to an IRA will be a fiduciary act. It doesn’t matter if the adviser has a pre-existing relationship with the plan or the participant, or not.

Some RIA firms and broker-dealers focused on a similar issue when FINRA issued its Regulatory Notice 13-45 in late 2013. As that notice explained, distribution recommendations are investment recommendations (and thus, in the case of FINRA, are subject to the suitability standard), but distribution education is not an investment recommendation. To avoid the additional compliance work (and possibly prohibited transactions), many RIA firms and broker-dealers adopted a distributions education approach using 13-45 as the model. While the … Read More »




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