Category Archives: rollovers

Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #91: Rollover Recommendations to Participants in Government Plans

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02. The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied.

However, the DOL’s guidance in the PTE does not apply to rollover recommendations to participants in government plans.

Rollover recommendations by broker-dealers and investment advisers to participants in government retirement plans are regulated by the SEC. Stated slightly differently, the SEC regulates rollover recommendations by broker-dealers and investment advisers to both private sector and government plan participants.

This article discusses the SEC regulation of rollover recommendations.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

Under these standards, a rollover recommendation will ordinarily be nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and result in a financial conflict of interest that is a prohibited transaction under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. But, since the recommendation is nondiscretionary, PTE 2020-02 will provide relief, but only if all of its conditions are met.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #90: Rollover Recommendations to Participants in Defined Benefit Plans

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice is described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied.

While most rollover discussions are about recommendations to participants in 401(k) and 403(b) plans, the fiduciary definition is broader than that. For example, it also covers rollover recommendations to participants in defined benefit pension plans.

This article discusses how the fiduciary definition and PTE 2020-02 apply to defined benefit plans.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”).

In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

A rollover recommendation will ordinarily be nondiscretionary fiduciary advice and will result in a financial conflict of interest that is a prohibited transaction under both ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. But, since the recommendation is nondiscretionary, PTE 2020-02 will provide relief, but only if all of its conditions are met.

Continue reading Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #90: Rollover Recommendations to Participants in Defined Benefit Plans

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #89: Rollovers and the Information That Is Needed About the Participant

Key Takeaways

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice was described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied

One of the conditions for relief is that a recommendation be in the best interest of a retirement investor (e.g., retirement plan, participant in a plan, or an IRA owner. A best interest process must consider the “investment objectives, risk tolerance, financial circumstances, and needs” of the retirement investor.

This article discusses the information needed about a participant in order to make a best interest rollover recommendation.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

The fiduciary regulations under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code have two definitions of fiduciary advice. The first is the obvious—where the investment professional and financial institution have discretion over the investments in retirement accounts. In effect, that is a one-part test—“discretion.” In addition, there is a 5-part test for non-discretionary fiduciary advice. The DOL did not amend the regulation to modify any of the “parts,” but instead reinterpreted some of the parts, and particularly the “regular basis” part, to significantly increase the number of investment professionals and financial institutions who are fiduciaries.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #88: Specific Reasons for Rollover Recommendations That Won’t Work (Part 2)

Key Takeaways

The DOL has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice, particularly for rollover recommendations.

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice was described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied.

This article discusses the requirement to give participants the specific reasons why the rollover recommendation is in their best interest (beginning July 1, 2022) and reasons that won’t work.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

The fiduciary regulations under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code have two definitions of fiduciary advice. The first is the obvious—where the investment professional and financial institution have discretion over the investments in retirement accounts. In effect, that is a one-part test—“discretion.” In addition, there is a 5-part test for non-discretionary fiduciary advice. The DOL did not amend the regulation to modify any of the “parts,” but instead reinterpreted some of the parts, and particularly the “regular basis” part, to significantly increase the number of investment professionals and financial institutions who are fiduciaries.

This article focuses on the requirement in PTE 2020-02 that financial institutions and investment professionals provide participants with the “specific reasons” why a rollover recommendation is in the best interest of the participant.

Continue reading Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #88: Specific Reasons for Rollover Recommendations That Won’t Work (Part 2)

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #87: Specific Reasons for Rollover Recommendations That Won’t Work (Part 1)

Key Takeaways

The DOL has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice, particularly for rollover recommendations.

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice was described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied.

This article discusses the requirement to give participants the specific reasons why the rollover recommendation is in their best interest (beginning July 1, 2022) and reasons that won’t work.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

The fiduciary regulations under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code have two definitions of fiduciary advice. The first is the obvious—where the investment professional and financial institution have discretion over the investments in retirement accounts. In effect, that is a one-part test—“discretion.” In addition, there is a 5-part test for non-discretionary fiduciary advice. The DOL did not amend the regulation to modify any of the “parts,” but instead reinterpreted some of the parts, and particularly the “regular basis” part, to significantly increase the number of investment professionals and financial institutions who are fiduciaries.

Continue reading Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #87: Specific Reasons for Rollover Recommendations That Won’t Work (Part 1)

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #86: Information Needed for Rollover Recommendations

Key Takeaways

The DOL has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice, particularly for rollover recommendations.

The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice was described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.

The PTE then provides relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations (for example, rollover recommendations), if its conditions are satisfied.

A number of my earlier articles have discussed the requirements that PTE 2020-02 imposes on rollover recommendations.

This article discusses the need for information about the plan and the participant’s interests in the plan in order to develop a compliant rollover recommendation.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (all of whom are referred to as “retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

In the preamble to the PTE, the DOL described its expanded definition of fiduciary advice. The fiduciary regulations in ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code have two definitions of fiduciary advice. The first is the obvious—where the investment professional and financial institution have discretion over the investments in retirement accounts. In effect, that is a one-part test—“discretion.” In addition, there is a 5-part test for non-discretionary fiduciary advice. The DOL did not amend the regulation to modify any of the “parts,” but instead reinterpreted some of the parts, and particularly the “regular basis” part, to significantly increase the number of investment professionals and financial institutions who are fiduciaries.

This article focuses on the information that is needed to make a compliant rollover recommendation and particularly about information concerning the participant’s interest in the plan.

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #75: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Mitigation of Conflicts (Part 2)

The Department of Labor’s “Fiduciary Rule,” PTE 2020-02: The FAQs

Key Takeaways

  • The DOL has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice.
  • In FAQ 16, the DOL discusses the requirements to have policies and procedures to mitigate conflicts of interest. The mitigation requirement applies to conflicts both at the firm level and at the investment professional level.
  • The requirement is that the policies and procedures mitigate conflicts of interest “to the extent that a reasonable person reviewing the policies and procedures and incentives as a whole would conclude that they do not create an incentive for the firm or the investment professional to place their interests ahead of the interest of the retirement investor”.
  • Best Interest #74 (Part 1) discussed the general requirements under FAQ 16 to mitigate conflicts of interest of both the financial institution and the investment professional. This post focuses on mitigation of the conflicts of the investment professional.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (“retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals will be fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

Continue reading Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #75: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Mitigation of Conflicts (Part 2)

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #74: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Mitigation of Conflicts (Part 1)

The Department of Labor’s “Fiduciary Rule,” PTE 2020-02: The FAQs

Key Takeaways

  • The DOL has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice.
  • In FAQ 16, the DOL discusses the requirements to have policies and procedures to mitigate conflicts of interest. The mitigation requirement applies to both conflicts at the firm level and at the investment professional level.
  • The requirement is that the policies and procedures mitigate conflicts of interest “to the extent that a reasonable person reviewing the policies and procedures and incentives as a whole would conclude that they do not create an incentive for the firm or the investment professional to place their interests ahead of the interest of the retirement investor”.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants (including rollover recommendations), and IRA owners (“retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals will be fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

Continue reading Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #74: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Mitigation of Conflicts (Part 1)

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #73: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: IRA “Rollovers” Are Covered by the Rule, But What is an IRA?

This series focuses on the DOL’s new fiduciary “rule”, which was effective on February 16. This, and the next several, articles look at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) issued by the DOL to explain the fiduciary definition and the exemption for conflicts of interest.

Key Takeaways

  • The DOL’s PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice apply to “rollover” recommendations, which include plan-to-IRA rollovers, IRA-to-IRA transfers, plan-to-plan rollovers, IRA-to-plan rollovers, and changes of account types in retirement accounts.
  • While it may be unexpected to learn that a recommendation to transfer an IRA is a “rollover recommendation” subject to the fiduciary definition and prohibited transaction rules, it is even more unexpected to learn that an IRA is more than an IRA.
  • This post discusses the many meanings of “IRA” for purposes of the DOL’s new guidance and the requirement to provide retirement investors with a written statement of why the rollover recommendation is in their best interest. (The written disclosures of the specific reasons isn’t required until July 1, 2022 due to the DOL’s extension of its non-enforcement policy.)

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), 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 ERISA retirement plans, participants and IRA owners (“retirement investors”). In addition, in the preamble to the PTE the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more financial institutions and investment professionals will be fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors and, therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

Continue reading Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #73: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: IRA “Rollovers” Are Covered by the Rule, But What is an IRA?

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