Category Archives: DOL

The New Fiduciary Rule (28): Coming Attractions—The Final Fiduciary Rules Are on the Horizon

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. On April 10 the OMB completed its review of the final rules. The next step is for the rules to be published in the Federal Register.

Key Takeaways

  • The final versions of the DOL’s fiduciary regulation and the amended PTEs have been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the White House—the final step in the approval process.
  • Now that the OMB has completed its part, the DOL will start the process for publishing the final rules in the Federal Register. The publication will likely be in the next two to three weeks.
  • Sixty days after publication, the final rules will be effective.
  • However, it is not clear if they will be applicable at the same time. There may be a delayed applicability date.

In November of 2023, the DOL proposed amendments to the regulation that defines when a person becomes a fiduciary by virtue of making “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. And I did the same with “retirement investors” because it is a defined term—private sector retirement plans, participants in those plans, and IRA owners.

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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 (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.

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The New Fiduciary Rule (22): Can Wholesalers Become Fiduciaries

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

  • It is, by now, well known that 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. However, it is less known that the same rules can apply to wholesalers of securities and insurance products.
  • When a wholesaler becomes a fiduciary to a plan or an IRA, and the recommendation is made by the advisor or agent to and accepted by the IRA investor or plan fiduciary, there will likely be a prohibited transaction due to the wholesaler’s firm making money on the investment or insurance product.
  • Where a wholesaler prohibited transaction occurs, an exemption (PTE) will be needed, most likely PTE 2020-02.

When a person makes a “covered” fiduciary 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.

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). (The emphasis is mine.)

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The New Fiduciary Rule (21): Requirement to Correct Failures with PTE Conditions (Part 3)

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 to satisfy the conditions in the exemption, for example, 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.

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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).

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

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Most Read Insights – Winter 2023

Each calendar quarter, benefits and executive compensation partner Fred Reish posts approximately 12 articles on his 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.

The New Fiduciary Rule (1): An Overview

In November, 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 advice to plans, participants (including rollovers) and IRAs.

The New Fiduciary Rule (2): The Impact

The U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary package will have different impacts on different types of service providers to retirement plans, participants, IRA owners, investment advisers, broker-dealers, banks and trust companies, and insurance agents. The greatest impact of the changes, if finalized as is, will be on insurance agents, particularly independent producers.

The DOL’s Regulatory Agenda and a New Fiduciary Rule

On September 8, the DOL sent a new fiduciary rule and list of prohibited transactions to the Office of Management & Budget in the White House. The DOL proposed amendments to prohibited transaction exemptions, including PTE 84-24, the exemption used for fiduciary rollover recommendations into individual annuity contracts.

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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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