In 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued its Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 2020-02 to provide an exemption to most prohibited transactions resulting from nondiscretionary fiduciary advice to retirement plans governed by either ERISA or the Internal Revenue Code, or both, as well as nondiscretionary fiduciary advice to IRAs.
The DOL’s Fiduciary Interpretation and Prohibited Transaction Exemption
In the preamble to the PTE, the DOL expanded its view of the nature of the advice that would result in fiduciary status. One of those expanded interpretations was that, in a rollover context, IRAs and plans should be viewed as having a continuous connection because they are retirement assets on a continuum. More specifically, the DOL said that, if an advisor has been providing investment advice on a regular basis to an IRA and then recommends that the IRA owner make a rollover to the IRA, the plan-to-IRA rollover recommendation would be connected to the advice to the IRA that had been provided on a regular basis and, as a result, the advisor would be a fiduciary for the rollover recommendation. Similarly, if an advisor made a plan-to-IRA rollover recommendation and then provided investment advice to the rollover IRA on a regular basis, the advisor would be a fiduciary for the rollover recommendation because the rollover recommendation and the advice to the rollover IRA would be on a continuum. (For the purposes of this article, “advisor” includes broker-dealers and investment advisers, and their representatives, and insurance agents.)