The DOL Fiduciary Rule: The Need to Act Now

John Schneider, CPA, CFF

Introduction

The Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued its long-anticipated final regulations (the “Final Regulations”) clarifying the standards for becoming a “fiduciary” of an employee benefit plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) by virtue of giving investment advice to a plan or its participants and beneficiaries. The Final Regulation also applies to the definition of “fiduciary” for purposes of IRAs under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The DOL finalized certain other exemptions, including the Best Interest Contract (“BIC”) exemption, the class exemption for principal transactions in certain debt securities, and amendments to existing exemptions including PTE 86-128 and PTE 75-1, which permit fiduciaries to receive fees in connection with certain securities transactions.

In the DOLs Fact Sheet that was published with the Final Regulations and exemptions, the DOL highlighted several provisions of the final rules that were revised in response to feedback from interested parties through written comments and the formal hearing process and meetings with the DOL. Some of the highlights include (i) extending the implementation period to April 2017, one year after the Final Regulations are published, with a phased implementation of the BIC exemption and principal transaction exemption until January 1, 2018, (ii) elimination of the list of eligible assets under the BIC exemption, (iii) clarifying how firms that offer proprietary products can satisfy the “best interest” standard, and (iv) reducing certain contract and disclosure requirements.

We at Alpha have reviewed the final regulations of the DOL Fiduciary Rule and have provided a breakdown of key changes that organizations will need to consider. Our focus is on supporting clients through operational changes not ivory tower musings.

 

6 Steps for Compliance Consideration:

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Who is Affected?

The landscape of the retirement industry will likely be impacted broadly. Each organization needs an action plan to ensure compliance. We have highlighted business challenges that Financial Advisors should adopt over the coming months.

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Timeline

In order for organizations to plan accordingly, there are important milestones that should be front of mind before full compliance is required by January 1st, 2018.

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Conclusion

Our compliance practice combines specialist understanding of the asset management industry with deep expertise in Compliance and Regulatory, and global governance methodologies. We are supporting clients during this process through three fundamental services:

 

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About the author

John Schneider, CPA, CFF

Executive Vice President, Head of Alpha’s US Compliance Practice

 

John has over 25 years of experience with a broad range of regulatory and risk management initiatives within the investment management industry. He is a regular contributor to articles from major publications, speaker at various seminars and conferences on pertinent topics and issues relating to regulatory change and requirements.

john.schneider@alphafmc.com