Category Archives: Broker-Dealers

Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #36

The Department of Labor’s Proposed Prohibited Transaction Exemption and its Impact on Recommendations to Plans, Participants and IRAs (Part 1)

 On July 7, 2020 the DOL issued a proposed prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) that would allow conflicted recommendations resulting from nondiscretionary fiduciary investment advice. The proposal is titled “Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees.” As background, an exemption is an exception to the prohibited transaction rules, but the exception is only available if its conditions are satisfied…and there are conditions.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #35

Comparing the DOL Proposal to the Broker-Dealer and RIA Standards of Conduct

Broker-dealers and investment advisers are now governed by a best interest standard of care. Those standards are based largely on the same fiduciary principles that are incorporated into the ERISA prudent man standard. The DOL recently extended the ERISA standard to an expanded definition of fiduciary status in a new interpretation found in the preamble to its proposed Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) for advice to plans, participants and IRAs. Among the conditions in the PTE is a requirement that advisors adhere to a best interest standard of care which, like its broker-dealer and RIA counterparts, is a combination of a duty of care and a duty of loyalty. This continues the convergence of the fiduciary standards for investment advisers and fiduciary advisors and the fiduciary-like standard for broker-dealers.

My colleagues, Joan Neri and Bruce Ashton, and I have recently written an article describing the similarities (and some differences) among those three pieces of guidance. The article includes a chart, which should make it easier to compare the different relevant provisions from the guidance.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #29

Best Interest Standard and Recommendations of Rollovers and Withdrawals

On June 15, SEC Chairman Clayton issued a statement partially entitled:  “Need for Increased Care when Recommending 401(k)/IRA Rollovers and Withdrawals . . .”. As that title suggests, the Chairman’s statement covers areas where the SEC will focus on recommendations when Reg BI applies on June 30. One of those areas of “increased care” is the recommendation of rollovers (and other withdrawals) from retirement plans.

The best interest standard for investment advisers became applicable last year. As a result, the Chairman’s statement already applies to rollover recommendations by investment advisers.

One part of the statement is entitled:  “Areas Where Increased Care May be Necessary When Making Recommendations to Main Street Investors“. In that part, the statement says:

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States Enact Good Samaritan Broker Laws

The aging of the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers is highlighting the difficulties resulting from the cognitive decline of the investors of those generations. The inability of some of those senior investors to understand and process financial information is inconsistent with our self-reliant investing culture, which is largely based on disclosures in lengthy documents. Part of the burden is being placed on advisors due to the new best interest standards for broker-dealers and insurance brokers and agents. In addition, the SEC has heightened the expectations of the existing best interest standard for investment advisers. In addition to the burdens, there are also opportunities for advisors to help protect senior investors from financial abuse.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #27

Regulation Best Interest, RIA Interpretation and Consideration of “Account Types” (Part 3)

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.”


Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) and the Interpretation Regarding Standard of Conduct for Investment Advisers (RIA Interpretation) require that broker-dealers  and investment advisers evaluate the “account types” their firms offer—in light of the investor’s investment profile—to make a best interest recommendation. In other words, both types of firms, and their advisors, must first consider the account type that is appropriate for the investor.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #26

Regulation Best Interest: Recommendations of Account Types (Part 2)

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 my last post (Best Interest for Advisors #25), I discussed the SEC guidance for broker-dealers and investment advisers on recommendations of account types. The article explained that investment advisers are subject to the best interest standard for recommending account types (since July of last year) and broker-dealers will be subject to the new best interest rules for recommending account types (beginning June 30 of this year).

The focus of the article, though, was to define what an account type was. As the article explained, “account type” is to be interpreted very broadly and includes many programs and accounts that may not obviously be considered types of accounts. As a result, the first compliance step for broker-dealers and investment advisers is to identify all of the account types they offer. Then those firms can develop the processes for their advisors to consider the types of accounts (and compare different types of accounts) offered by the firm . . . in light of the investor’s needs. (The rules apply to retail customers of broker-dealers and all clients of investment advisers.)

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #25

Regulation Best Interest, RIA Interpretation and Consideration of “Account Types” (Part 1)

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.”


Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) and the Interpretation Regarding Standard of Conduct for Investment Advisers (RIA Interpretation) require that broker-dealers  and investment advisers evaluate the account types their firms offer—in light of the investor’s investment profile—to make a best interest recommendation. In other words, both types of firms, and their advisors, must first consider the account type that is appropriate for the investor. That raises the obvious question of “What is an account type?”

Before answering that question, let’s look at what the SEC said about the need to consider account types as a part of a best interest process.

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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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