Tag Archives: financial institution

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.

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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 #85: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Special Issues: Monitoring (2)

Key Takeaways

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.

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 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.

Continue reading Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #85: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Special Issues: Monitoring (2)

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #84: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Special Issues: Monitoring

Key Takeaways

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.
    • This article discusses whether the DOL’s position is that the fiduciary definition and the best interest standard in the PTE require “monitoring” of recommended investments. The answer is, possibly, in some cases.

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 are 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 #84: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Special Issues: Monitoring

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #83: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Enforcement of the Exemption

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

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 has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice.

  • In FAQ 21, the DOL discussed how it would enforce compliance with the exemption.
  • As a starting point, the DOL has the authority to interpret and enforce the requirements of the PTE as they apply to retirement plans, including recommendations to participants to take their benefits out of a retirement plan and roll to an IRA.
  • In addition, under ERISA there are private rights of actions for breaches of fiduciary duties to plans and participants, including recommendations to rollover.
  • In addition, while the DOL does not have investigative or enforcement authority for violations of the conditions of the exemption for non-ERISA vehicles, such as IRAs, if it finds those violations it will refer them to the IRS.

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 are 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 #83: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Enforcement of the Exemption

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #82: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Correction of Violations of PTE 2020-02

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

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 has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice.

  • In FAQ 20, the DOL discussed whether violations of PTE 2020-02 may be corrected and, if so, how they should be corrected.
  • It should come as no surprise, but yes, they can be corrected and, in fact, must be corrected. If a violation is not corrected, it is a violation of the prohibited transaction rules in ERISA and/or the Internal Revenue Code, subject to penalties and interest and, even then, must still be corrected.
  • In effect, by correcting (e.g., by restoring any losses to the retirement account), the protections of PTE 2020-02 will be preserved and the corrected transaction will not be considered to be a prohibited transaction.

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 are 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 #82: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Correction of Violations of PTE 2020-02

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #81: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Annual Retrospective Review

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

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 has issued FAQs that generally explain PTE 2020-02 and the expanded definition of fiduciary advice.

  • In FAQ 19 the DOL discusses the requirement that “financial institutions” (that is, broker-dealers, investment advisers, insurance companies, and banks and trust companies) that intend to comply with PTE 2020-02 must perform a retrospective review each year.
  • The review must be reduced to a written report and signed by a senior executive officer of the firm.
  • The report is available to the DOL on request.
  • The failure to satisfy that requirement results in the loss of the exemption. That would mean that the conflicted recommendations were prohibited transactions, resulting in penalties and costs. For example, the exemption would be lost for recommendations to participants to roll over their plan benefits to an IRA with the financial institution or recommendations to IRA owners to transfer their IRAs to the financial institution.

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 are 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 #81: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Annual Retrospective Review

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #80: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Insurance Distribution Issues (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 18, the DOL discusses the application of the requirements to the distribution of insurance products and the impact on insurance companies.
    • However, many insurance companies have decided against using PTE 2020-02 primarily because of the requirement that the insurance companies accept fiduciary status for the recommendations.
    • Instead, most insurance companies are relying on agents using PTE 84-24, and some are providing forms and educational materials to support that usage.
    • Meanwhile, the DOL is working on a further expanded fiduciary definition and a more demanding PTE 84-24 that will increase the oversight responsibilities for covered recommendations by insurance agents.
    • There may be a role for IMOs, FMOs and BGAs in the anticipated revised 84-24 in terms of the oversight of the recommendations by independent agents.

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 are 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 #80: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Insurance Distribution Issues (Part 2)

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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #79: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Insurance Distribution Issues (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 18, the DOL discusses the application of the requirements to the distribution of insurance products and the impact on insurance companies.
  • However, many insurance companies have decided against using PTE 2020-02 primarily because of the requirement that the insurance companies accept fiduciary status for the recommendations.
  • Instead, most insurance companies are relying on agents using PTE 84-24, and some are providing forms and educational materials to support that usage.
  • Meanwhile, the DOL is working on a further expanded fiduciary definition and a more demanding PTE 84-24 that will increase the oversight responsibilities for covered recommendations by insurance agents.

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 are 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 #79: Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Insurance Distribution Issues (Part 1)

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