All posts by Fred Reish

Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #99: The PTE 2020-02 Requirement for An Annual Retrospective Review

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice is explained in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

When conflicted fiduciary advice is given to retirement investors (that is, retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRA owners (including transfers of IRAs), it results in prohibited transactions under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. The PTE provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations. However, the relief is only available if all of the PTE’s conditions are satisfied.

While much attention has been given to the conduct, disclosure and policies “conditions” for obtaining the relief provided by PTE 2020-02, there hasn’t been much discussion of the PTE’s “condition” that requires an annual retrospective review and report. This article discusses that requirement.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

For example, a rollover recommendation will ordinarily be nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and result in a financial conflict of interest (i.e., the compensation earned from the rollover IRA) that is a prohibited transaction under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. But, since the recommendation is nondiscretionary, PTE 2020-02 provides relief, but only if all of its conditions are met.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #98: How PTE 2020-02 Impacts Advice to IRAs

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice to retirement plans, participants, and IRAs was described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations to retirement investors (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied.

One of the conditions for relief is that a recommendation be in the best interest of the retirement investor (e.g., retirement plan, participant in a plan, or an IRA owner).

In addition, the PTE includes requirements, or “conditions”, that focus on conflicts of interest.

This article discusses the PTE’s coverage of advice to IRAs, including the conflicts issues.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

The fiduciary regulations under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code have two definitions of fiduciary advice. The first is the obvious—where the investment professional and financial institution have discretion over the investments in retirement accounts. In effect, that is a one-part test: “discretion.” In addition, there is a 5-part test for non-discretionary fiduciary advice. The DOL did not amend the regulation to modify any of the “parts,” but instead reinterpreted some of the parts, and particularly the “regular basis” part, to significantly increase the number of investment professionals and financial institutions who are fiduciaries.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #97: The SEC Requirements for Rollover Recommendations

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

When conflicted fiduciary advice is given to retirement investors (that is, retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRA owners), it results in prohibited transactions under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. But the PTE provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations.

While most of the focus of the literature (and of these blog articles) about rollover recommendations has been on the DOL’s fiduciary interpretation and PTE 2020-02, the SEC has, for the most part, harmonized its best interest/fiduciary requirements for rollover recommendations with those of the DOL.

This article discusses the two-part harmony between the agencies, and the areas of disharmony.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and therefore will need the protection provided by the exemption.

For example, a rollover recommendation will ordinarily be nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and result in a prohibited transaction under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code (i.e., the compensation earned from the rollover IRA). But, since the recommendation is nondiscretionary, PTE 2020-02 provides relief, but only if its conditions are met.

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Most Popular Insights for the Second Quarter 2022

Each calendar quarter, I post approximately 12 articles on my blog, fredreish.com. This quarterly digest provides links to the most popular posts during the past three months so that you can catch up on what you missed or re-read them.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #96: Annuity Recommendations, PTE 84-24, and Fiduciary Misunderstandings

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded interpretation of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 2020-02. The expanded interpretation applies to all rollover recommendations, including recommendations to rollover into annuities.

A fiduciary rollover recommendation to rollover from an ERISA-governed retirement plan results in a conflict of interest, which is the compensation from the individual retirement account or annuity.

That conflict is a prohibited transaction under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. PTE 2020-02 provides relief from the prohibitions if its conditions are satisfied.

One of the conditions for an insurance company to use PTE 2020-02 is that the insurance company and the investment professionals (including insurance agents) both be fiduciaries for the recommendations. However, most insurance companies have determined that they do not have the close relationships with agents, and particularly independent agents, to satisfy the fiduciary requirements in the PTE. As a result, most insurance companies have decided that they will not use PTE 2020-02 for relief for themselves and their agents from the prohibitions of the Code and ERISA.

But, when agents make rollover recommendations covered by the DOL’s expanded fiduciary interpretation, they will engage in prohibited transactions and need relief from the resulting prohibited transactions. The alternative to 2020-02 is PTE 84-24.

However, PTE 84-24 has conditions that agents must satisfy, and there are emerging stories that many agents do not know that they can be fiduciaries and do not know about the relief provided by 84-24.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (including transfer recommendations)–all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors.” With regard to IRAs, the term includes both individual retirement accounts and individual retirement annuities. In addition, in the preamble to the PTE, the DOL announced an expanded interpretation of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

While it appears that most broker-dealers, investment advisers, and banks and trust companies will be relying on, and complying with, the conditions in PTE 2020-02, the same cannot be said of most insurance companies. As a result, when insurance agents recommend rollovers to annuities, they need to consider whether they are fiduciaries under the DOL’s expanded interpretation and, if so, how to comply with PTE 84-24 in order to avoid a prohibited transaction for their compensation, i.e., the commission and any trailing payments.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #95: The Four Effective Dates for PTE 2020-02

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded interpretation of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 2020-02.

When conflicted fiduciary advice is given to retirement investors (that is, retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRA owners), it results in prohibited transactions under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. But the PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations. However, the relief is only available if all of the PTE’s conditions are satisfied.

The DOL’s fiduciary interpretation and the PTE and its requirements were not all effective at the same time, causing some confusion. This article discusses the four effective dates or, more appropriately, enforcement dates.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (including transfer recommendations)– all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”. In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded interpretation of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #94: Maintenance of Documentation for Compliance with PTE 2020-02

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

When conflicted fiduciary advice is given to retirement investors (that is, retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRA owners), it results in prohibited transactions under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. But the PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations. However, the relief is only available if all of the PTE’s conditions are satisfied.

While much attention has been given to the “conditions” for obtaining the relief provided by PTE 2020-02, there hasn’t been much discussion of the PTE’s requirements to retain documentation of compliance with those conditions. This articles discusses those requirements.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

For example, a rollover recommendation will ordinarily be nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and result in a financial conflict of interest (i.e., the compensation earned from the rollover IRA) that is a prohibited transaction under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. But, since the recommendation is nondiscretionary, PTE 2020-02 provides relief, but only if all of its conditions are met.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #93: Correction of Failures to Satisfy PTE 2020-02

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

When conflicted fiduciary advice is given to retirement investors (that is, retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRA owners), it results in prohibited transactions under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. But the PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations. However, the relief is only available if all of its conditions are satisfied.

Unfortunately, we are already seeing that some broker-dealers and investment advisers have not fully complied with the exemption’s conditions, at least in connection with some of their recommendations.

That raises the question of “What are the consequences of those failures?” This article discusses the failures, corrections, reporting to the DOL, and inclusion of the failures in the annual retrospective review and report.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

For example, a rollover recommendation will ordinarily be nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and result in a financial conflict of interest that is a prohibited transaction under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. But, since the recommendation is nondiscretionary, PTE 2020-02 provides relief, but only if all of its conditions are met.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #92: Consideration of Costs in the Evaluation of Rollovers

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02. The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied.

In both its Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) for broker-dealers and Interpretation Regarding Standard of Conduct for Investment Advisers (Investment Adviser Interpretation), the SEC said that rollover recommendations were subject to its best interest standard of care, which is similar to the DOL’s fiduciary and loyalty standards.

Both the DOL and the SEC also say that cost is a material consideration in evaluating rollovers. This article discusses that guidance.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

Under these standards, a rollover recommendation will ordinarily be nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and result in a financial conflict of interest that is a prohibited transaction under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. But, since the recommendation is nondiscretionary, PTE 2020-02 can provide relief, but only if all of its conditions are met.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #91: Rollover Recommendations to Participants in Government Plans

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02. The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied.

However, the DOL’s guidance in the PTE does not apply to rollover recommendations to participants in government plans.

Rollover recommendations by broker-dealers and investment advisers to participants in government retirement plans are regulated by the SEC. Stated slightly differently, the SEC regulates rollover recommendations by broker-dealers and investment advisers to both private sector and government plan participants.

This article discusses the SEC regulation of rollover recommendations.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (“financial institu­tions”), and their representatives (“investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

Under these standards, a rollover recommendation will ordinarily be nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and result in a financial conflict of interest that is a prohibited transaction under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. But, since the recommendation is nondiscretionary, PTE 2020-02 will provide relief, but only if all of its conditions are met.

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