Insights


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #34

Posted on January 19, 2017, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary, Registered Investment Advisers. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #34

A Seminar Can Be a Fiduciary Act

This is my 34th 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.

Last week, the DOL issued its second set of FAQs on the fiduciary rule and conflict of interest exemptions. For the most part, the DOL’s answers were consistent with the industry’s understanding of the rules. However, a few were particularly interesting. For example, Question 17 asked:

Q17. Would a free dinner seminar offered by an investment adviser as a means of marketing services or investments to a group of retirees or individuals approaching retirement be a widely attended speech or conference within the meaning of the general communications provision of the Rule?

Before giving you the answer, let me explain the significance of the question. If … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #33

Posted on January 12, 2017, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #33

Discretionary Management, Rollovers and BICE

This is my 33rd 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.

Most broker-dealers and RIA firms are familiar with the provisions of the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) and with the fact that, as a general rule, BICE applies only to non-discretionary investment advice. But, that isn’t the end of the story. There are some situations in which discretionary management can be used for recommendations that are covered by BICE. For example, if a representative of a broker dealer or an RIA prudently recommends a distribution and IRA rollover (satisfying the Level Fee Fiduciary conditions), the IRA may be invested using discretionary investment manager. (Note, though, that the discretionary investment management must be provided by a “pure” Level Fee … Read More »


Inside the Beltway – January 26, 2017

Posted on January 10, 2017, by Fred Reish in DOL Activity, fiduciary. Comments Off on Inside the Beltway – January 26, 2017

Please join us for the nineteenth Inside the Beltway presentation, scheduled for January 26, 2017. This is the next session in an ongoing series of free audiocasts presented by Fred Reish and Brad Campbell, of Drinker Biddle & Reath, discussing developments in Washington that directly impact our industry. The presentation is sponsored by Natixis. Click on the linked title, above, to register.

During this session of Beltway we will discuss:

Update on the fiduciary rule
Update on the special Financial Institution status for IMOs and the sale of fixed indexed annuities
Impact of the Congressional proposals for retirement plans
Impact on retirement plans of other priorities of the Trump Administration

The audiocast will be recorded and available to all registrants within a week of the presentation. An Outlook appointment request will be sent with registration confirmation.

Questions? Please contact liz.jutila@dbr.com.


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #32

Posted on December 27, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #32

What “Level Fee Fiduciary” Means for Rollover Advice

This is my 32nd 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.

As explained in article #30 in the Angles series, in order to use the simplified, or BICE-lite, alternative for recommending that participants take distributions and roll over to IRAs with the adviser, the adviser must be a “Level Fee Fiduciary.” The Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) defines “Level Fee Fiduciary” as:

A Financial Institution and Adviser are ‘‘Level Fee Fiduciaries’’ if the only fee received by the Financial Institution, the Adviser and any Affiliate in connection with advisory or investment management services to the Plan or IRA assets is a Level Fee that is disclosed in advance to the Retirement Investor. A ‘‘Level … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #31

Posted on December 22, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #31

“Un-levelizing” Level Fee Fiduciaries

This is my 31st 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.

In the last article I posted, I discussed the three meanings of “Level Fee Fiduciary.” This article discusses the kinds of payments or benefits that will “un-levelize” a Level Fee Fiduciary.

As a starting point, the definition of compensation, for these purposes, includes any money or things of monetary value. So, it covers both cash and non-cash amounts. However, as the DOL explains, it must be directly or indirectly connected to a recommendation:

The term ‘‘fee or other compensation, direct or indirect’’ means . . . any explicit fee or compensation for the advice received by the person (or by an affiliate) from any source, and any other fee … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #30

Posted on December 15, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #30

Three Kinds of Level Fee Fiduciaries . . . and What’s A “Level Fee?”

This is my 30th 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.

The DOL’s use of the phrase “Level Fee Fiduciary” is creating a lot of confusion about the application of the new fiduciary regulation and the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE). This article, and the next one, will try to dispel some of that confusion.

The label “Level Fee Fiduciary” has been used for many years for one meaning, but BICE has used it for a different purpose and, depending on your reading, a different definition.

Historically, Level Fee Fiduciary referred to a fiduciary adviser whose compensation was level or, at least, levelized. What’s the different between level and levelized? “Level” refers … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #29

Posted on December 9, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prohibited transaction, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #29

Capturing Rollovers: What Information is Needed?

This is my 29th 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.

The Department of Labor’s fiduciary regulation provides that a recommendation to take a distribution from a plan, and to roll the money over to an IRA, is a fiduciary act. As a result, the recommendation must be prudent and cannot result in a prohibited transaction. However, a prohibited transaction almost automatically occurs, since an adviser typically makes higher fees in the IRA than from the plan (even where the adviser is providing services to the plan). As a result, an exemption is needed, even if the recommendation is otherwise prudent. Fortunately, the Level Fee Fiduciary provision of the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) provides the framework for … Read More »


The Presidential Election: Now What?

Posted on November 29, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, Broker-Dealers, DOL Activity, fiduciary, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA. Comments Off on The Presidential Election: Now What?

One of the consequences of the presidential election is that the future of the fiduciary rule (and the exemptions) is uncertain. What does that mean to advisers . . . regardless of whether they are representatives of RIAs or broker-dealers, or for that matter, if they are independent insurance agents?

The answer is that nobody knows. However, this article outlines the most likely alternatives. Those are:

The rule will be killed by regulation or legislation.
The rule will be implemented “as is.”
The rule and the exemptions will be modified.

Only the second alternative (the “as is” option) could realistically be implemented by the current deadline of April 10. But, that’s the alternative that is, in my opinion, the least likely to happen. While it is low probability, it is high risk in the sense that broker-dealers and RIAs must be in compliance by April … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #28

Posted on November 17, 2016, by Fred Reish in BICE, DOL Activity, fiduciary, prudent. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #28

What About Rollovers that Aren’t Recommended?

This is my twenty-eighth 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.

Under the DOL’s fiduciary regulation, the recommendation of a plan distribution and IRA rollover will be fiduciary advice, subject to the best interest standard of care and the prohibited transaction rules. But, what if a participant takes a distribution and rolls over into an IRA with an adviser . . . without a recommendation by the adviser?

As background, there are three ways that a participant can make a decision to take a distribution and roll over into an IRA. The first is “unsolicited.” In other words, the participant made the decision without any input from an adviser or recordkeeper. The second is “educated.” Distribution education involves providing … Read More »


Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #27

Posted on November 8, 2016, by Fred Reish in 408(b)(2), BICE, DOL Activity, Registered Investment Advisers, RIA. Comments Off on Interesting Angles on the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule #27

The Definition of Compensation

This is my twenty-seventh article about interesting observations concerning the fiduciary rule and exemptions.

As the readers of these articles know, one impact of the new fiduciary rule is that compensation paid to Financial Institutions and advisers must be reasonable. Reasonable, in turn, is a function of a transparent and competitive marketplace. However, where the competitive market does not work (for example, where compensation is not transparent), customary compensation may not be reasonable.

But, this article is not about reasonable compensation. Instead, the question is, what is “compensation?”

The Department of Labor partially answered that question in the fiduciary regulation:

“The term ‘fee or other compensation, direct or indirect’ means . . . any explicit fee or compensation for the advice received by the person (or by an affiliate) from any source, and any other fee or compensation received … Read More »






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