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Best Interest Standard of Care for Advisors #92: Consideration of Costs in the Evaluation of Rollovers

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.

In both its Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) for broker-dealers and Interpretation Regarding Standard of Conduct for Investment Advisers (Investment Adviser Interpretation), the SEC said that rollover recommendations were subject to its best interest standard of care, which is similar to the DOL’s fiduciary and loyalty standards.

Both the DOL and the SEC also say that cost is a material consideration in evaluating rollovers. This article discusses that guidance.


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 can provide relief, but only if all of its conditions are met.

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