Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #23

Regulation Best Interest: SEC 2020 Examination Priorities—Examinations for Compliance With Reg BI and the Investment Adviser Interpretation

The SEC has issued its final Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), Form CRS Rule, RIA Interpretation and Solely Incidental Interpretation. I am discussing the SEC’s guidance in a series of articles entitled “Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors.”

My last post on Best Interest for Advisors #22 discussed the FINRA 2020 Examination Priorities (https://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/2020-risk-monitoring-and-examination-priorities-letter.pdf) provisions on examinations for compliance with Reg BI and Form CRS. This article discusses the SEC’s 2020 Examination Priorities (https://www.sec.gov/about/offices/ocie/national-examination-program-priorities-2020.pdf) provisions on compliance with Interpretation Regarding Standard of Conduct for Investment Advisers (“RIA Interpretation”) and Form CRS (as well as compliance by broker-dealers with Reg BI).

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SECURE Act and Guaranteed Income (Part 3)

The introduction to my last two posts, SECURE Act Part 1 and SECURE Act Part 2, explained:

There are two parts of the SECURE Act that I believe will have the greatest impact on my clients: plan sponsors and plan service providers. The first includes the provisions on retirement income, including the safe harbor for selecting a guaranteed income provider, the ability to distribute guaranteed income investments if a plan no longer want to offer those products, and a new requirement to give participants projection of their retirement income. The second impactful part is the authorization of Open MEPs (Multiple Employer Plans), which the law calls “PEPs” (or Pooled Employer Plans). That change will allow financial institutions to sponsor plans that can be adopted by multiple (or even many) unrelated employers, transferring much of the fiduciary responsibility onto the financial institution.

Part 1 discussed the fiduciary safe harbor for selecting an insurance company to provide the guaranteed retirement income products for defined contribution plans (e.g., 401(k) plans). Part 2 covered the common guaranteed products in 401(k) plans under the pre-SECURE Act rules.

This article talks about two practical issues: (1) the need for the guaranteed retirement income products to be on recordkeeping platforms, and (2) the role of plan advisors in helping 401(k) fiduciaries understand and select the insurance company and the product.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #22

Regulation Best Interest: FINRA Examination Priorities—2020 Examinations for Compliance

The SEC has issued its final Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), Form CRS Rule, RIA Interpretation and Solely Incidental Interpretation. I am discussing the SEC’s guidance in a series of articles entitled “Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors.”


Among the priorities in FINRA’s 2020 Risk Monitoring and Examination Priorities Letter (https://www.finra.org/rules-guidance/communications-firms/2020-risk-monitoring-and-examination-priorities-letter) is examining the compliance readiness for Reg BI and Form CRS . . . and then, after June 30, examining compliance with those requirements. Here’s what the examination priorities letter says about that, including the questions that their examiners will ask:

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SECURE Act and Guaranteed Income (Part 2)

The introduction to my last post, SECURE Act Part 1, explained:

There are two parts of the SECURE Act that I believe will have the greatest impact on my clients: plan sponsors and plan service providers. The first includes the provisions on retirement income, including the safe harbor for selecting a guaranteed income provider, the ability to distribute guaranteed income investments if a plan no longer want to offer those products, and a new requirement to give participants projection of their retirement income. The second impactful part is the authorization of Open MEPs (Multiple Employer Plans), which the law calls “PEPs” (or Pooled Employer Plans). That change will allow financial institutions to sponsor plans that can be adopted by multiple (or even many) unrelated employers, transferring much of the fiduciary responsibility onto the financial institution.

That post then discussed the fiduciary safe harbor for selecting an insurance company to provide the guaranteed retirement income products for defined contribution plans (e.g., 401(k) plans).

This article talks about the types of guaranteed retirement income products currently found in 401(k) plans. Let me start by addressing two common areas of misunderstanding.

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SECURE Act and Guaranteed Income (Part 1)

There are two parts of the SECURE Act that I believe will have the greatest impact on plan sponsors and service providers.

  • The first part includes the provisions on retirement income, including the safe harbor for selecting a guaranteed income provider, the ability to distribute guaranteed income investments if a plan no longer want to offer those products, and a new requirement to give participants projection of their retirement income.
  • The second impactful part is the authorization of Open MEPs (Multiple Employer Plans), which the law calls “PEPs” (or Pooled Employer Plans). That change will allow plans that can be adopted by multiple unrelated employers, transferring much of the fiduciary responsibility onto the sponsor of the PEP, which could be, g., a financial institution, a recordkeeper or an advisory firm.

This article discusses the fiduciary safe harbor for selecting the provider (e.g., insurance company) for a guaranteed retirement income product. The other provisions will be discussed in future articles.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #21

Regulation Best Interest: Rollover Recommendations and Mitigation of Advisor Incentives (Rollovers Part 7)

The SEC has issued its final Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), Form CRS Rule, RIA Interpretation and Solely Incidental Interpretation. I am discussing the SEC’s guidance in a series of articles entitled “Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors.”

This is the 7th of my series of articles about rollover recommendations and rollover education under the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest and its Interpretation for Investment Advisers. (For the first six, see Best Interest for Advisors #’s 15161718, 19 and 20.)


This article deals with the Reg BI requirement that broker-dealers mitigate the incentives that might induce their advisors to make rollover recommendations that are not in the best interest of participants. Specifically, that requirement (which applies on June 30, 2020) is:

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #20

Regulation Best Interest: Rollover Recommendations and Form CRS/ADV Part 3 Disclosures (Rollovers Part 6)

The SEC has issued its final Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), Form CRS Rule, RIA Interpretation and Solely Incidental Interpretation. I am discussing the SEC’s guidance in a series of articles entitled “Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors.”


This is the 6th of my series of articles about rollover recommendations and rollover education under the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest and its Interpretation for Investment Advisers. (For the first five, see Best Interest for Advisors #’s 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19.)

This article continues the discussion of the disclosure requirements related to rollover recommendations by broker-dealers and investment advisers, but moves from the discussion in Best Interest for Advisors #19 about the disclosure requirements in Reg BI and the RIA Interpretation to the requirements in the new Form CRS Rule (which must be satisfied beginning June 30, 2020).

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #19

Regulation Best Interest: Rollover Recommendations for Investment Advisers (Rollovers Part 5)

The SEC has issued its final Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), Form CRS Rule, RIA Interpretation and Solely Incidental Interpretation. I am discussing the SEC’s guidance in a series of articles entitled “Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors.”


This is the 5th of my series of articles about rollover recommendations and education under the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest and its Interpretation for Investment Advisers. (For the first four, see Best Interest for Advisors #’s 15, 16, 17 and 18.)

This article discusses the disclosure requirements for conflicts of interest involved in rollover recommendations by broker-dealers and investment advisers. Let’s start by pointing out why a rollover recommendation is a conflict of interest.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #18

Regulation Best Interest: Rollover Recommendations for Investment Advisers (Rollovers Part 4)

The SEC has issued its final Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI), Form CRS Rule, RIA Interpretation and Solely Incidental Interpretation. I am discussing the SEC’s guidance in a series of articles entitled “Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors.”


In earlier posts (e.g., Best Interest for Advisors #15), I discussed the application of Reg BI, and its Best Interest Standard of Care, to rollover recommendations. However, the requirement to act in the best interest of a plan participant for rollover recommendations is not limited to broker-dealers; it also applies to investment advisers. That was explained in the SEC’s Interpretation Regarding Standard of Conduct for Investment Advisers, issued June 5, 2019 and effective on July 12, 2019.

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