Category Archives: prohibited transaction

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).

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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 (16): Permissible Compensation under PTE 2020-02

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 2020-02. However, compensation of advisors and their firms is often an element of the costs of the services and products, and thus can also be part of the consideration of costs.
  • 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 both investments and services, be no more than a reasonable amount. In other words, a prudent process will consider the costs of investments and services relative to the value of those investments or services 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).

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The New Fiduciary Rule (15): Reasonable Costs and Reasonable Compensation

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 are violated, the protection of an exemption will be needed. In that case, the protections of PTEs 84-24 and 2020-02 will require that costs and compensation be considered.
    • The consideration is that the costs and/or compensation cannot be more than a reasonable amount.
    • However, the determination of what is reasonable is largely left to industry practices—that is, what would the costs for a product or service, or the compensation of an advisor or agent, be in a transparent and competitive market.

The ERISA fiduciary responsibility rules require that plan costs, for both investments and services, be no more than a reasonable amount. In other words, a prudent process will consider the costs of investments and services relative to the value of those investments or services to the retirement investor. The ERISA prohibited transaction rules impose a similar limit on compensation where there is a fiduciary recommendation that results in a conflict of interest, that is, the compensation cannot be more than a reasonable amount when compared to the value of services being offered (and, in most cases, that would be the compensation paid for those services in a transparent and competitive marketplace). These rules apply to all ERISA-governed retirement plans and participant accounts in those plans.

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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 (11): What is An Investment? (Part 3)

The U.S. 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.

The proposed regulation redefines fiduciary status for “investment” recommendations. But what is an investment recommendation? The answer: More than you think.

Key Takeaways

  • The Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary “package” includes new definitions of nondiscretionary fiduciary investment advice.
  • Of course, the application of the definition is based on a recommendation about investments and other property. The proposed regulation has an expansive definition of such a recommendation.
  • Broker-dealers, investment advisers, and insurance companies, and their representatives, need to understand the range of recommendations that are covered by the fiduciary standards.
  • That is particularly true (i) since one-time recommendations can result in fiduciary status and (ii) where the fiduciary investment 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.

This article continues a discussion of the definitions of investment and other property transactions that, if recommended to a retirement investor (that is, a private sector qualified plan, participants in those plans, or IRA owners), will require satisfaction of the fiduciary standards and, in most cases, of the conditions of a prohibited transaction exemption.

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