Category Archives: 84-24

The New Fiduciary Rule (20): Requirement to Correct Failures with PTE Conditions (Part 2)

The U.S. Department of Labor has 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).

Key Takeaways

  • The expansive definition of fiduciary in the DOL’s proposed regulation will cause many more advisors and insurance agents to be fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors. Where the recommendations result in additional compensation for them or their firms, that compensation will be prohibited. That would be the case where, for example, a rollover recommendation results in fees or commissions from the rollover IRA.
  • Where a prohibited transaction occurs, an exemption (PTE) will be needed, e.g., PTEs 84-24 or 2020-02, in order for the advisor or agent to receive any compensation, e.g., from the rollover IRA or annuity.
  • One of the conditions for obtaining the protection of either of those PTEs is an annual retrospective review and report on compliance with the requirements of the exemptions. If a failure is found in the review, it must be corrected.

When a person makes a “covered” recommendation to a “retirement investor” and the recommendation, when implemented, results in the person (or his or her firm or an affiliate) receiving additional compensation, a prohibited transaction (under the Code and/or ERISA) will occur.

A “covered” recommendation is one in which the person is a fiduciary (as defined in the proposed fiduciary recommendation) and the recommendation is about the investment of “qualified” or retirement accounts (as that is defined in the proposed regulation). Some of the covered investment recommendations include:  investing in securities, annuities or other property; rollovers; IRA transfers; withdrawals from retirement accounts; and investment strategies, policies and allocations.

The proposed regulation defines a “retirement investor” as a: …plan, plan fiduciary, plan participant or beneficiary, IRA, IRA owner or beneficiary or IRA fiduciary (retirement investor).

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The New Fiduciary Rule (19): Requirement to Correct Failures with PTE Conditions (Part 1)

The U.S. Department of Labor has 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).

Key Takeaways

  • The DOL’s proposed fiduciary regulation defines fiduciary recommendations to include, among other things, one-time advice where specified conditions are satisfied.
  • That expansive definition will cause many more advisors and insurance agents to be fiduciaries for their recommendations and, where the recommendations result in additional compensation for them or their firms, that compensation will be prohibited. That would be the case where, for example, a rollover recommendation results in fees or commissions from the rollover IRA.
  • Where a prohibited transaction occurs, the protection of an exemption (PTE) will be needed, e.g., PTEs 84-24 or 2020-02.
  • One of the conditions for obtaining the protection of either of those PTEs is an annual retrospective review and report on compliance with the requirements of the exemptions. If a failure is found in the review, it must be corrected or the benefit provided by the exemptions will be lost.

When a person makes a “covered” recommendation to a “retirement investor” and the recommendation, when implemented, results in the person (or his or her firm or an affiliate) receiving additional compensation, a prohibited transaction (under the Code and/or ERISA) will occur.

A “covered” recommendation is one in which the person is a fiduciary (as defined in the proposed fiduciary recommendation) and which falls into one of the three defined categories in the proposed regulation. Those categories include, for example, recommendations about investing in securities or annuities, rollovers, IRA transfers, withdrawals from retirement accounts, and investment strategies, policies and allocations.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (18): Requirement to File Form 5330 and Pay Excise Taxes

The U.S. Department of Labor has 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).

Key Takeaways

  • The DOL’s proposed fiduciary regulation defines fiduciary recommendations to include, among other things, one-time advice where specified conditions are satisfied.
  • That expansive definition will cause many more advisors and insurance agents to be fiduciaries for their recommendations and, where the recommendations result in additional compensation for them or their firms, the implementation of the recommendations will result in prohibited transactions. That would be the case where, for example, a rollover recommendation results in fees or commissions from the rollover IRA.
  • Where a prohibited transaction occurs, the protection of an exemption (PTE) will be needed, e.g., PTEs 84-24 or 2020-02.
  • The proposed amendments those PTEs include a requirement that, if a failure to satisfy the conditions of the exemptions is found in the annual review of covered transactions, the failure must be corrected and reported to the DOL and, if those steps are not timely taken, a Form 5330 must be filed with the IRS and excise taxes on prohibited transactions must be paid.

When a person makes a “covered” recommendation to a “retirement investor” and the recommendation, when implemented, results in the person (or his or her firm) receiving additional compensation, a prohibited transaction (under the Code and ERISA) will occur.

A “covered” recommendation is one in which the person is a fiduciary (as defined in the proposed fiduciary recommendation) and which falls into one of the three defined categories. Those categories include, for example, recommendations about investing in securities or annuities, rollovers, IRA transfers, withdrawals from retirement accounts, and investment strategies, policies and allocations.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (17): Permissible Compensation under PTE 84-24

The U.S. Department of Labor has 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.

Key Takeaways

  • ERISA’s fiduciary and prohibited transaction rules require consideration of costs and compensation when fiduciary recommendations are made to “retirement investors,” that is, to private sector retirement plans, participants in those plans, and IRA owners.
  • Where the Internal Revenue Code’s prohibited transaction rules would be violated, the protection of an exemption is needed. In that case, the protections of PTEs 84-24 and 2020-02 will require that costs and compensation be considered.
  • This article focuses on limitations on compensation under PTE 84-24.
  • While the general rule in ERISA and the Code is that compensation cannot be more than a reasonable amount, the PTE has additional limitations.

ERISA’s fiduciary responsibility rules require that costs, for investments, insurance products and services, be no more than a reasonable amount. In other words, a prudent process will consider the costs of products and services relative to their value to the retirement investor and relative to reasonably available alternatives. ERISA’s prohibited transaction rules, and the exemptions to the prohibitions, impose a similar limit on compensation when a fiduciary recommendation is conflicted, that is, the compensation cannot be more than a reasonable amount when compared to the value of services being offered. These rules apply to all ERISA-governed retirement plans and participant accounts in those plans (including rollover recommendations).

The Code has prohibited transaction provisions with similar limitations on compensation, that is, compensation cannot exceed a reasonable amount relative to the services provided. The Code limits apply to both tax-qualified retirement plans and IRAs (including individual retirement annuities). However, the Code does not have a standard of care for recommendations to IRA owners. Instead, the applicable standard of care is imposed by other laws and regulations (for example, the best interest standard for insurance agents in NAIC model rule 275).

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The New Fiduciary Rule (14): The Timeline for the Final Regulation and Exemptions

The U.S. Department of Labor has 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.

Key Takeaways

  • The Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary “package” expands the scope of fiduciary status (to include, e.g., one-time recommendations) and the types of transactions that are covered by fiduciary advice.
  • That is particularly important since, where the fiduciary recommendation involves a conflict of interest (e.g., a new fee or a commission), the firms and their representatives and agents will need to satisfy the conditions of either PTE 84-24 or PTE 2020-02.
  • The comment period for the proposed regulation and exemptions is over. The DOL now starts the process for finalizing the guidance and determining the effective date.

The DOL published its proposed fiduciary regulation and prohibited transaction exemptions in the Federal Register on November 3, 2023. That was the beginning of a process that will end with the final rules and their effective and applicability dates.

The “effective” date is the day on which the guidance becomes final as a regulation or exemption. The “applicability” date is the day on which the new rules must be complied with. The proposals said that the effective date and the applicability date would be the same. However, that may not be the case with the final rules.

This article is my best guess about the timing of the process to complete the DOL’s work.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (13): Advisors and Agents with Restricted Investment Menus (Part 2)

The U.S. Department of Labor has 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.

Key Takeaways

  • The Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary “package” expands the scope of fiduciary status (to include, e.g., one-time recommendations) and the types of transactions that are covered by fiduciary advice.
  • That is particularly important since, where the fiduciary recommendation involves a conflict of interest (e.g., a new fee or a commission), the firms and their representatives and agents will need to satisfy the conditions of either PTE 84-24 or PTE 2020-02.
  • One question that arises under the best interest standard in the PTEs is whether advisors or insurance agents can make recommendations from limited, or restricted, menus of available products.

This article continues a discussion of the consequences of limited menus on the availability of the exemptions and the relief they provide for compensation resulting from the recommended transactions.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (12): Advisors and Agents with Restricted Investment Menus (Part 1)

The U.S. Department of Labor has 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.

Key Takeaways

  • The Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary “package” expands the scope of fiduciary status (to include, e.g., one-time recommendations) and the types of transactions that are covered by fiduciary advice.
  • That is particularly important since, where the fiduciary recommendation involves a conflict of interest (e.g., a new fee or a commission), the firms and their representatives and agents will need to satisfy the conditions of either PTE 84-24 or PTE 2020-02.
  • One question that arises under the best interest standard in the PTEs is whether an adviser or agent can make recommendations from limited, or restricted, menus of available products.

This article focuses on PTE 2020-02 and the relief it provides to broker-dealers, investment advisers, banks and trust companies, and insurance companies that sell through employees and statutory employees.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (5): Discretionary Investment Management

The US Department of Labor has released its package of proposed changes to the regulation defining nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and to the exemptions for conflicts and compensation for investment recommendations to retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRAs.

Key Takeaways

  • The Department of Labor’s proposed regulation defining fiduciary investment and insurance advice to private sector retirement plans, participants in those plans, and IRA owners (collectively, “retirement investors”) includes three distinct definitions.
  • Those definitions are discretionary investment management, nondiscretionary investment advice, and acknowledgement of fiduciary status.
  • The least controversial definition is that, when an investment professional provides investment management, or discretionary, services to retirement investors, the investment professional will be a fiduciary under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.

This post discusses the “discretionary” definition of fiduciary investment advice in the DOL’s proposed fiduciary regulation.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (3): Fixed Indexed Annuities

The US Department of Labor has released its package of proposed changes to the regulation defining nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and to the exemptions for conflicts and compensation for investment recommendations to retirement plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRAs.

Key Takeaways

    • Statements from the White House indicate that the DOL and the White House are concerned that fixed indexed annuities may be inappropriately sold to participants and IRA owners (“retirement investors”) in connection with recommendations to roll over benefits from plans and to transfer money from IRAs. Some of the political rhetoric accompanying the release of the proposals was unusually harsh.
    • The reaction from the insurance industry and state insurance commissioners has been immediate and strong.
    • If the proposals become final as written, the greatest impact of the changes will likely be on insurance agents, particularly independent producers.
    • The greatest impact on products will likely be on fixed indexed annuities.
    • This and several following articles will cover the impact on independent insurance agents, insurance companies, and annuities.

This article discusses the DOL’s thoughts on prudent processes for evaluating fixed indexed annuities, which dates back to the Obama-era Best Interest Contract Exemption (which was vacated in 2018 by the 5th Circuit of Appeals).

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The New Fiduciary Rule (2): The Impact

The US Department of Labor has released its package of proposed changes to the regulation defining fiduciary advice and to the exemptions for conflicts and compensation for investment advice to plans, participants (including rollovers), and IRAs.

Key Takeaways

  • The Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary “package” will have different impacts on different types of service providers to retirement plans, participants, and IRA owners (collectively, “retirement investors”) . . . .investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks and trust companies, and insurance agents (and companies) (“financial professionals”).
  • The greatest impact of the changes, if finalized as is, will be on insurance agents, particularly independent producers. Insurance companies issuing the life insurance policies and annuity contracts will also see increased compliance burdens.
  • For all of the types of financial professionals, the most impactful change will likely be that one-time investment recommendations to private sector retirement plans and their participants, and to IRA owners, will be fiduciary advice. That includes rollover recommendations.

This post discusses the likely impact of the new proposals. Future posts will go into more detail about the proposals and compliance issues:

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