The DOL has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice.
The DOL’s expanded definition of fiduciary advice was described in the preamble to PTE 2020-02.
The PTE then provides conditional relief for conflicted non-discretionary recommendations, if its conditions are satisfied.
My last article, Best Interest #84, discussed the requirement in the preamble to PTE 2020-02 that, where products of “unusual complexity and risk” are recommended, there are best interest issues if monitoring services are not provided.
This article discusses products of unusual complexity and risk.
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 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 retirement accounts (ERISA or tax qualified plans, participant accounts in those plans, and IRAs). 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 is not about the expanded definition, but instead about a circumstance in which a fiduciary could have more responsibility than anticipated.