All posts by Fred Reish

The New Fiduciary Rule (27): Changes to PTE 2020-02 (2): Affecting Financial Institutions

In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor released its package of proposed changes to the regulation defining fiduciary advice and to the exemptions for conflicts and compensation for investment recommendations to retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRAs (including transfers). On March 8, 2024, the DOL sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.

Key Takeaways

  • The DOL’s proposed fiduciary regulation includes a new and expanded definition of when a person will become a fiduciary under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code due to recommendations to retirement investors.
  • As a result, many more advisors and agents will be fiduciaries.
  • If a fiduciary recommendation to a retirement investor is conflicted, any resulting financial benefit will be prohibited under ERISA and the Code. In that case, to avoid the consequences of a prohibited transaction, it would be necessary to comply with the conditions of a prohibited transaction exemption (PTE)—most likely PTE 2020-02.
  • My last article discussed the proposed changes to PTE 2020-02 that will affect individual advisors and agents. This article discusses the changes that affect the financial institutions.

The first, and current, version of Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 2020-02 was effective in December 2020. In November of 2023, the DOL proposed amendments to PTE 2020-02 in connection with its proposed regulation expanding the definition of fiduciary advice to retirement investors—private sector retirement plans, participants in those plans, and IRA owners.

The proposed regulation will cause many more people and firms to be fiduciaries when they make “investment” recommendations to retirement investors. (I put the apostrophes around investment because the term, as used in the regulation, includes a range of services and types of products.)

When an investment recommendation is conflicted (that is, if the recommendation is accepted and implemented, it will financially benefit the advisor or the firm), the financial benefit is prohibited—literally prohibited. However, if there is an available exemption, and if the conditions of the exemption are satisfied, the transaction can proceed and the financial benefit can be retained.

PTE 2020-02, in both its current form and in the proposed amended version, provides relief to broker-dealers, investment advisers, insurance companies, and banks, and to the individuals who act on their behalf. While those individuals could be advisors or agents of any of those types of firms, this article uses “advisors” for ease of reading.

The proposed 2020-02 has changes from the current version. Some primarily affect the individual advisors (called “investment professionals” by the DOL) while others primarily affect the firms (called “financial institutions”). Both the investment professionals and the financial institutions are fiduciaries for purposes of satisfying the requirements of the exemption.

This article discusses the most significant changes that primarily affect financial institutions. My last post, Fiduciary Rule 26, covered the changes that will affect investment professionals.

Continue reading The New Fiduciary Rule (27): Changes to PTE 2020-02 (2): Affecting Financial Institutions

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ERISA Moments Ep. 22: An Update on the DOL Fiduciary Proposals: A Race to the Finish

Take a quick dive into the exciting world of ERISA with Faegre Drinker benefits and executive compensation attorneys Fred Reish and Brad Campbell. In this quick-hit series of updates, Fred and Brad offer a high-level view of current trends and recent ERISA developments.

See the newest episode, An Update on the DOL Fiduciary Proposals: A Race to the Finish, on the Spotlight on Benefits blog.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (26): Changes to PTE 2020-02 (1): Affecting the Advisor

In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor released its package of proposed changes to the regulation defining fiduciary advice and to the exemptions for conflicts and compensation for investment recommendations to retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRAs (including transfers). On March 8, 2024, the DOL sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.

Key Takeaways

  • The DOL’s proposed fiduciary regulation includes a new and expanded definition of when a person will become a fiduciary under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code due to recommendations to retirement investors.
  • As a result, many more advisors and agents will be fiduciaries.
  • If a fiduciary recommendation to a retirement investor is conflicted, any resulting financial benefit will be prohibited under ERISA and the Code. In that case, to avoid the consequences of a prohibited transaction, it would be necessary to comply with the conditions of a prohibited transaction exemption (PTE)—most likely PTE 2020-02.
  • This article discusses the proposed changes to PTE 2020-02 that will affect individual advisors and agents. My next article will discuss the changes that affect the financial institutions.

The first, and current, version of Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 2020-02 was effective in December 2020. In November of 2023, the DOL proposed amendments to PTE 2020-02 in connection with its proposed regulation expanding the definition of fiduciary advice to retirement investors—private sector retirement plans, participants in those plans, and IRA owners.

The proposed regulation will cause many more people and firms to be fiduciaries when they make “investment” recommendations to retirement investors. (I put the apostrophes around investment because the term, as used in the regulation, includes a range of services and types of properties.)

Continue reading The New Fiduciary Rule (26): Changes to PTE 2020-02 (1): Affecting the Advisor

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The New Fiduciary Rule (25): Robo Advice and Robo Conflicts

In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor released its package of proposed changes to the regulation defining fiduciary advice and to the exemptions for conflicts and compensation for investment recommendations to retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRAs (including transfers). On March 8, 2024, the DOL sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.

Key Takeaways

  • The DOL’s proposals make it clear that robo advice, both “hybrid” and “pure”, can be fiduciary advice, subject to the provisions of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.
  • When pure robo advice (no human directly involved) or hybrid robo advice is given, if it satisfies the regulatory definition of fiduciary advice, the financial institution will be a fiduciary under ERISA (if to an ERISA plan or a participant in such a plan) and subject to ERISA’s duties of prudence and loyalty.
  • If robo advice generates a fiduciary recommendation that is conflicted, the conflicted amount (e.g., commissions, management fees) will be a prohibited transaction under ERISA and the Code, which would necessitate compliance with the conditions of a prohibited transaction exemption (PTE).
  • This article discusses robo advice under PTE 2020-02.

Under the current PTE 2020-02, the exemptive relief is not extended to “pure” robo-advisers. Instead, only “hybrid” robo-advisers can provide nondiscretionary fiduciary advice to retirement investors where the advice is conflicted (e.g., proprietary investments, revenue sharing, commissions). However, when the proposed amendments to the PTE become final and applicable, compensation resulting from conflicted nondiscretionary advice will be permitted if the conditions of the exemption are satisfied.

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ERISA Moments Ep. 20: Automatic Portability of Safe Harbor IRAs and the DOL Guidance

Take a quick dive into the exciting world of ERISA with Faegre Drinker benefits and executive compensation attorneys Fred Reish and Brad Campbell. In this quick-hit series of updates, Fred and Brad offer a high-level view of current trends and recent ERISA developments.

See the newest episode, Automatic Portability of Safe Harbor IRAs and the DOL Guidance, on the Spotlight on Benefits blog.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (24): The DOL Fiduciary Rule Requires a Recommendation. What is That?

In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor released its package of proposed changes to the regulation defining fiduciary advice and to the exemptions for conflicts and compensation for investment recommendations to retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRAs (including transfers). On March 8, 2024, the DOL sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.

Key Takeaways

    • The DOL’s proposed fiduciary regulation includes a new and expanded definition of when a representative of a broker-dealer, investment adviser, bank or insurance company will become a fiduciary under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.
    • The new definition starts with whether a “recommendation” has been made. If a recommendation results in fiduciary status, but does not include a conflict of interest, the only purpose of the definition is to determine whether ERISA’s fiduciary standards apply to advice to ERISA-governed retirement plans (including participants in those plans). It would have no effect under the Code (e.g., IRAs) in that case.
    • However, if a fiduciary recommendation is conflicted, it will be a prohibited transaction under ERISA and the Code, which would necessitate compliance with the conditions of a prohibited transaction exemption (PTE).
    • This article discusses the definition of “recommendation.”

The preamble to the proposed fiduciary regulation describes the significance of a recommendation as follows:

Whether a person has made a ‘‘recommendation’’ is a threshold element in establishing the existence of fiduciary investment advice.

Continue reading The New Fiduciary Rule (24): The DOL Fiduciary Rule Requires a Recommendation. What is That?

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The New Fiduciary Rule (23): The Final Rule Has Been Sent to the OMB

In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor released its package of proposed changes to the regulation defining fiduciary advice and to the exemptions for conflicts and compensation for investment recommendations to retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRAs (including transfers). On March 8, 2024, the DOL sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.

Key Takeaways

  • In a little over 2 months, the DOL finalized it proposed fiduciary rules—the Retirement Security Rule: Definition of an Investment Advice Fiduciary.
  • That 2-month turnaround is very fast as compared to the usual time frames, suggesting that the OMB review may also move quickly.
  • The OMB has up to 90 days to review rules, but this suggests that its review could be done in 45 days, give a week or two.
  • While we know that the final rule is at the OMB, we don’t know what it says or how it changed from the proposals. We will only know that after it is published in the Federal Register when the OMB review is completed.

The Department of Labor has sent its final versions of the fiduciary proposal to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. While the OMB’s website just refers to the “Retirement Security Rule: Definition of an Investment Fiduciary”—the name of the fiduciary regulation—it is likely that the rules sent for regulatory review included the prohibited transaction exemptions as well. The RIN (1212-AC02) for the final rule is the same one in the Regulatory Agenda that included the exemptions.

Continue reading The New Fiduciary Rule (23): The Final Rule Has Been Sent to the OMB

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ERISA Moments Ep. 18: Plan Sponsors and SECURE 2.0: IRS “Grab Bag” Guidance

Take a quick dive into the exciting world of ERISA with Faegre Drinker benefits and executive compensation attorneys Fred Reish and Brad Campbell. In this quick-hit series of updates, Fred and Brad offer a high-level view of current trends and recent ERISA developments.

See the newest episode, Plan Sponsors and SECURE 2.0: IRS “Grab Bag” Guidance, on the Spotlight on Benefits blog.

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