Category Archives: Broker-Dealers

Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #42

The Department of Labor’s Prohibited Transaction Exemption and Its Impact on Recommendations to Plans, Participants and IRAs (Part 7)


On February 16, 2021, the DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 became effective. The PTE is titled “Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees.” It 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 retirement plans, participants and IRA owners (“retirement investors”).

In the preamble to the PTE, the DOL also announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals will be fiduciaries and therefore will need the protections afforded by the exemption. In addition, they will need prudent, or best practice, processes to satisfy the fiduciary and best interest standards of care.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #41

The Department of Labor’s Prohibited Transaction Exemption and Its Impact on Recommendations to Plans, Participants and IRAs (Part 6)


On February 16, 2021, the DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 became effective. The PTE is titled “Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees.” (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-07-12/pdf/2019-12208.pdf)  It allows investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks, and insurance companies (collectively referred to as “financial institutions”), and their representatives (collectively referred to as “investment professionals”), to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to retirement plans, participants and IRA owners (collectively referred to as “retirement investors”).

In the preamble to the PTE, the DOL also announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals will become fiduciaries and therefore need the protections afforded by the exemption. In addition, they will need prudent, or best practice, processes to satisfy those standards of care.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #40

The Department of Labor’s Prohibited Transaction Exemption and Its Impact on Recommendations to Plans, Participants and IRAs (Part 5)


On December 18, 2020, the DOL issued its final prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) that permits investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks and insurance companies, and their representatives, to receive conflicted compensation resulting from nondiscretionary fiduciary investment advice. The PTE is titled “Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees.” The citation is Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2020-02. (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-07-12/pdf/2019-12208.pdf) The exemption became effective on February 16, 2021.

The exemption imposes certain “conditions” that must be satisfied for financial institutions (that is, broker-dealers, investment advisers, banks or insurance companies) and their individual representatives (called “investment professionals” in the exemption) to receive the relief provided by the exemption. This article builds on the earlier posts Parts 1-4, Best Interest #36, #37, #38, and #39. This article and the ones that follow will address interesting, and perhaps lesser known, issues in the exemption.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #38

The Department of Labor’s Proposed Prohibited Transaction Exemption and Its Impact on Recommendations to Plans, Participants and IRAs (Part 3): Investment Adviser Considerations

On December 18, 2020, the DOL issued its final prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) that will allow conflicted compensation resulting from nondiscretionary fiduciary investment advice. The PTE is titled “Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees.”  The citation is Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2020-02. The exemption is effective February 16, 2021.

The exemption and the associated expansion of the definition of fiduciary advice will have the greatest impact on recommendations by investment advisers and broker-dealers (1) to retirement plan participants about rollovers, and (2) to IRA owners about how to invest in their IRAs. This article focuses on the impact on investment advisers who recommend rollovers.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #37

The Department of Labor’s Proposed Prohibited Transaction Exemption and its Impact on Recommendations to Plans, Participants and IRAs (Part 2)


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.” And, as my last post, #36 (Part 1), explained, the DOL said that it is re-interpreting part of the definition of fiduciary advice to include many more recommendations, and especially rollover recommendations.

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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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