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Fiduciary Related News and Intelligence

These are general fiduciary news items. Other topical areas you may find of interest that are not fully covered here include ERISA 404(c) Compliance and Fiduciary Duty, 401k Investment Committees and Fiduciary Responsibility and Liability Issues.


House Committee Passes Bill That Would Delay Fiduciary Rule

Summary: Even if the bill makes it to the floor of the full House, American Retirement Association Director of Congressional Affairs Andrew Remo does not think much of its prospects, remarking, "President Obama's forceful support of the fiduciary rule in February has muted House Democratic support for the Wagner bill, ensuring its defeat in this Congress."

Source: Ntsa-net.org, October 2015

Big Changes Ahead for DOL Fiduciary Rule

Summary: The DOL will make changes to a proposal to raise investment advice standards for retirement accounts as soon as it digests thousands of comments letters, the official spearheading the rule said Tuesday. One such change could involve the controversial contract brokers must sign with clients in order to have flexibility in how they charge.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), September 2015

Department of Labor's Proposal to Define "Investment Advice"

Summary: The DOL intends to use the proposed definition of "investment advice," addition of a "best interest contract" exemption, and changes to current exemptions to more substantially extend its authority over IRAs. As a result, virtually all sales and marketing activities in connection with IRAs will be "investment advice" and subject to the prohibited transaction provisions. The purpose of this article is to explain how the DOL proposes to accomplish this.

Source: Groom.com, September 2015

Are Plain-Vanilla 401k Investment Options a Fiduciary Imperative?

Summary: Investment fads come and go, but they tend to stay on the 401k menu of investment options. Whose responsibility is it to recognize when investment fads expire? It may be reasonable to place that responsibility on the fiduciary duty of the plan sponsor who then can offer employees with the proper menu of the core building blocks.

Source: Fiduciarynews.com, September 2015

Fiduciary Financial Advisers and the Incoherence of a 'High-Quality Low-Fee' Safe Harbor

Summary: Americans now hold trillions of dollars in individual retirement savings accounts. Concerned about conflicts of interest among financial advisers who provide advice to retirement savers, the DOL has proposed imposing fiduciary status and a "best interest" standard on such advisers. But authors state, "This policy incoherence is worrisome because of the potential for the safe harbor to swallow the best interest standard."

Source: Ssrn.com, September 2015

Proposed DOL Fiduciary Regulation May Lead to Unintended Roadblocks for 403(b)s

Summary: The DOL has traditionally been very supportive of 403(b) modernization. In fact, they've encouraged it. Author writes, "That's why it is particularly curious that the DOL's proposed fiduciary regulation seem to introduce prohibitions that will likely prevent future modernization."

Source: Principal.com, September 2015

Fiduciary Education Considerations

Summary: Rumor has it that regulatory exams of retirement plans continue to include explicit questions about whether a formal fiduciary education program exists and, if it does, what it contains. Still, such programs appear to be rare.

Source: Pensionriskmatters.com, September 2015

Analyst Says DOL Creates New Conflict in Its Conflict of Interest Rule

Summary: The Department of Labor's proposed fiduciary rule, which is designed to remove conflicts of interests from advisors to IRAs and most of the country's 401k plans, actually creates a new conflict of interest, according to one analyst.

Source: Benefitspro.com, September 2015

Seven Things Fiduciaries Shouldn't Say in Court

Summary: Fiduciaries and sponsors might want to note these incriminating statements in a notorious 401k court case. Article looks at seven examples of what not to say when under oath.

Source: Benefitspro.com, September 2015

Fiduciary's Failure, in One Flowchart

Summary: This chart maps out the restrictions the DOL's proposed change to the definition of fiduciary puts on consumers, employers and financial advisors.

Source: Uschamber.com, August 2015

DOL Issues Re-Proposed Conflict-of-Interest Rule for Investment Advice

Summary: The DOL's re-proposed fiduciary definition of "investment advice" would consider more advisors to be investment advice fiduciaries subject to ERISA. The regulation would also affect the 15% excise tax on prohibited transactions in employee benefit plans, IRAs and annuities, and HSAs. Plan sponsors, plan participants and IRA owners may benefit, assuming the rules make conflicts of interest considerably more transparent.

Source: Towerswatson.com, August 2015

Summary of Comments From the DOL Hearing on the Proposed Conflict of Interest Rule

Summary: On August 13, 2015, the DOL concluded a four day public hearing on its proposed conflict of interest rule. The approximately 75 witnesses generally fell into two groups: the financial services industry and consumer groups. During the hearing, each witness read a prepared statement before responding to questions from a panel of DOL employees. This article summarizes some of those comments.

Source: Shearman.com , August 2015

Effects of the Fiduciary Rule: Questions Advisers Are Asking

Summary: The DOLs Fiduciary Rule could affect you if you recommend a plan distribution to a participant or provide advice on how to invest assets to be rolled over or distributed from a plan or IRA, because these suggestions would now be fiduciary advice. If the advice results in a prohibited transaction, under the proposed rule you would need to satisfy the conditions of the DOL's "best interest contract" exemption.

Source: Planadviser.com, August 2015

The Great Divide: The Different Effect of the DOL's Fiduciary Proposal on Large and Small Plans

Summary: The DOL conflict of interest proposal includes a complex array of exceptions and exemptions, the requirements of which vary depending on the size and nature of the retirement vehicle, as well as the type of product being sold. Some of these requirements will change in the process of finalizing the proposal. It is incumbent on plan sponsors, as well as their advisers, to avoid engaging in prohibited transactions, but to do this will require close monitoring of how the new rules work together.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com , August 2015

Fiduciary Rule "Going to Change the Game"

Summary: Calling it a "game changer," NTSA Executive Director Chris DeGrassi and American Retirement Association CEO Brian Graff offered their takes on the Department of Labor's proposed fiduciary rule.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, August 2015

DOL's Fiduciary Proposal: Significance for Plan Sponsors

Summary: The DOL proposal may affect plan sponsors in three ways. First, sponsors and sponsor staff may, in some cases, be advice fiduciaries under the proposed rule. Second, sponsors may be affected as direct consumers of advice. Third, sponsors may be affected as indirect consumers of advice. Article reviews each one in more detail.

Source: Octoberthree.com, August 2015

"We are Absolutely Not Banning Commissions," says DoL Fiduciary Hearing Chief

Summary: The agency wants a fundamental shift in Wall Street culture and sees a "best interest contract" as a way to as a way to do that. "We are absolutely not banning commissions...[w]e just want everyone who is working on retirement accounts to be acting as fiduciaries."

Source: Financial-Planning.com, August 2015

Ten Questions Regarding DOL's Fiduciary Rule

Summary: Ron Rhoades responds to 10 questions he has received regarding the DOL's "Conflict of Interest" (fiduciary) rule proposal, and its future.

Source: Scholarfp.blogspot.com, August 2015

Don Trone Blasts DOL Fiduciary Plan

Summary: Don Trone, often referred to as the "Father of Fiduciary," testified at a Department of Labor hearing on Thursday that its proposed fiduciary rule making would have failed to stop famed Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, and that more fiduciaries than brokers have stolen money from investors.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, August 2015

Opponents to DOL Fiduciary Rule Say Tweaks Aren't Enough

Summary: In the first day of hearings on the DOL's fiduciary rule, DOL deputy assistant secretary Timothy Hauser sketched a potential simplified contract that would allow financial advisers flexibility in their compensation arrangements as long as they act in the best interests of their clients. Even after the Labor Department modifies its proposal to curb conflicts of interest for brokers working with retirement accounts, it may not be enough to satisfy opponents.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), August 2015

Industry Making "a Last Gasp Effort" for Revisions to DOL Fiduciary Rule

Summary: In testimony this week, adviser groups have called the DOL's proposed fiduciary rule "burdensome" and argued the additional requirements, such as increased disclosures, would make it harder for financial professionals to provide investors with affordable services and products. Others call the industry's loud objections to the rule, "a last gasp effort."

Source: Benefitnews.com, August 2015

The DOL Fiduciary Proposal: Investment Education Vs. Advice

Summary: The DOL's proposed regulation re-defining who is an ERISA fiduciary would, among other things, supersede current rules on investment education. This article provides background on the education vs. advice distinction and on the current rules. It then reviews the DOL proposal and conclude with a discussion of the issues it presents for sponsors.

Source: Octoberthree.com, August 2015

Benchmark DC Plan Fees Now to Lower Your Personal Risk

Summary: Continuing focus on DC plan fees by litigators, regulators and the media has made it clear that fiduciaries must understand and determine “reasonable” fees being paid from a DC plan. Since fiduciary liability is personal, sound risk mitigation calls for a rigorous process to establish reasonable fees on an ongoing, regular basis.

Source: Xerox.com, August 2015

Most Advisors See Little Effect From New Fiduciary Rules

Summary: Some reps who think they are ready for a fiduciary standard may not fully grasp the implications. More than two-thirds of financial advisors, 67 percent, say recent moves by regulators are having "minimal to no impact" on their risk assessment processes, according to a survey.

Source: Benefitspro.com, August 2015

NTSA Conference Presentation Sheds More Light on DOL's Fiduciary Rule

Summary: During the first round of breakout sessions at the 2015 NTSA 403(b) Summit in Nashville, an expert panel led a lively and engaging discussion about the Department of Labor’s re-proposed fiduciary rule, and the potential impact on common business practices. Amy L. Simonson summarizes the who, what, when, where, why and how of the proposed rule.

Source: Ntsa-net.org, August 2015

What Can Fiduciaries Learn From Tibble v. Edison?

Summary: The Tibble decision presents some obvious implications for plan sponsors and fiduciaries. Plan sponsors need to engage in periodic monitoring of their retirement plan investments, with proper documentation, either on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. The investment monitoring should include criteria that encompasses performance and risk-based analytics as well as benchmarking the fees, both investment and administrative, paid by participants and the plan.

Source: Schneiderdowns.com, July 2015

SEC Faces Its Own Debate on Fiduciary Advice Standards

Summary: Transcripts from a tough SEC hearing called earlier this month show it's not just the Department of Labor considering changes to the application of the fiduciary standard.

Source: Planadviser.com, July 2015

Will Trial Lawyers be the Sole Beneficiary of a Watered-Down Fiduciary Rule?

Summary: The law firm of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton has had a very good couple of weeks. After winning two high profile 401k fee lawsuits, courts have approved the payment of more than $31.9 million in legal fees. These settlement fees got the author thinking about the DOL's proposed fiduciary rule. Would the proposal, if implemented, give trial lawyers more fodder for excessive 401k fee lawsuits? Author thinks it would.

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, July 2015

A Caveat to the Advice to Pension Fiduciaries to "Document, Document, Document"

Summary: It is good to have a formal record of steps that have been taken. Whether it's the evaluation of providers, the benchmarking of fees, or any of the many other steps that fiduciaries take as part of their oversight of the investment program, you'll want it on record. But, while some documentation serves to explain decisions, and to demonstrate due process, not all documentation has that effect.

Source: Russell.com, July 2015

Where Key Players Align in the DOL Fiduciary Fight

Summary: As the DOL's fiduciary rule proposal's comment period ends, here's a snapshot of some of the larger parties' stances.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), July 2015

Perez Says DOL Fiduciary Debate Shifts From Whether to How

Summary: Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez told lawmakers that the debate surrounding the fiduciary rule proposal has evolved from whether it's necessary to how to put the fiduciary measure into practice.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), July 2015

Comment Period Closes on DOL Fiduciary Rule

Summary: The DOL re-proposed its fiduciary rule mid-April. Under the proposal, brokers and advisers to individual retirement plans would have to follow the same stringent rules as registered investment advisers. July 21 was the last day to submit a comment on the proposal. Article reviews many of the comments received.

Source: Benefitnews.com, July 2015

DOL Official Promises Changes to Fiduciary Rule

Summary: A Labor Department official said the agency's proposal to raise investment-advice standards for brokers working with retirement accounts would be modified in response to criticism.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), July 2015

Obama Doubles Down on DOL Fiduciary Rule

Summary: President Obama reiterated his administration's intent to implement the Department of Labor's proposed fiduciary rule. The comments from the president are his latest commitments of political capital to the DOL's efforts.

Source: Benefitspro.com, July 2015

Fiduciary Advice Proposal Signals a Fundamental Shift in the DOL's Approach

Summary: The DOL's fiduciary proposal represents a fundamental shift in the Department's approach to regulating the retirement services industry. This article discusses three aspects of the proposal that illustrate this fundamental shift.

Source: Groom.com , July 2015

401k Plans and the Fiduciary Standard

Summary: Employers are often placed in a position of trust with respect to their company's 401k plan. Unfortunately, until recently the responsibilities associated with that position have not been fully understood. That is about to change.

Source: Brightscope.com, July 2015

Defining "Best Interest" Standard in Fiduciary Debate a Head Scratcher

Summary: Two industry trade groups and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority came out recently with uniform best interest standards in an attempt to squelch what they say will be competing fiduciary plans to be issued by the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, June 2015

Senate Appropriations Bill Targets Fiduciary Proposal

Summary: Appropriations subcommittees on Capitol Hill -- first in the House and now in the Senate -- have taken a shot at blocking the Labor Department's fiduciary proposal by denying funding for the measure.

Source: Napa-net.org, June 2015

Money Market Funds Changes - Implications for Fiduciaries

Summary: New SEC money market funds rules that go into effect in 2016 will impact nearly every retirement plan that uses such funds as investment options or to facilitate plan administration. Plan sponsors, investment committees, those who advise them, and plan administrators should understand the upcoming changes in order to determine what steps that will be required or may be beneficial to take regarding such funds, and to consider their alternatives.

Source: Reliance-Trust.com , June 2015

DOL Sets Fiduciary Regulation Hearing Dates

Summary: The DOL has announced public hearing dates of August 10-12, and August 13 if necessary, for its proposed conflict-of-interest (fiduciary definition) regulations.

Source: Ascensus.com, June 2015

Will Investors Benefit From a Unified Fiduciary Rule?

Summary: The Department of Labor's proposed rule holding brokers and registered investment advisers to a higher fiduciary standard isn't the slam dunk that many claim. There are two possible problems with one uniform standard.

Source: Institutionalinvestor.com, June 2015

Supreme Court Decision in 401k Case May Have Profound Effect on Fiduciary Debate

Summary: At issue in Tibble v. Edison was whether an ERISA fiduciary has an ongoing duty to manage plan assets for statute of limitations purposes. The Court's ruling, while in line with the recent push toward a higher standard for those rendering investment advice to retail customers, appears to be at odds with the DOL's newly proposed rule expanding the definition of fiduciary under ERISA.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), June 2015

Locked Out of Retirement: The Threat to Small Business Retirement Savings

Summary: The DOL is expanding the definition of fiduciary investment advice under a federal law known as ERISA. The result would be that many traditional forms of compensation, such as commissions that vary from one investment to another, for financial advisors could become illegal under special provisions in that law called "prohibited transactions." According to this 13 page paper, a number of aspects of the proposal appear unworkable in actual practice, and would negatively impact how advisors assist small businesses in providing retirement benefits for their employees.

Source: Centerforcapitalmarkets.com , June 2015

Fiduciary Rule Could Impact Brokers the Most

Summary: The proposed fiduciary rule will have a major effect on the retirement industry and brokers could be the most affected group. "They're going to be impacted by this probably greater than anyone else," said Managing Consultant Scott Brogan, one of three BridgePoint Group, LLC panelists that discussed the proposal's potential impacts.

Source: Benefitnews.com, June 2015

DOL Pushing to Finalize Conflict of Interest Rule by May 2016

Summary: The DOL intends to finalize its re-proposed rule defining a fiduciary in May of next year, Groom Law Group Chairman Steve Saxon said on June 8. Saxon made his remarks at the SPARK Institute's annual conference in Washington, DC.

Source: Asppa.org, June 2015

DOL Posts Public Comments on Proposed Fiduciary Rule

Summary: The DOL has created a page on its website that lists and links to the comments it has received on it's proposed fiduciary rule. The comment period is scheduled to run through July 20, so additional comments will be posted.

Source: Dol.gov, June 2015

The Impact of the DOL's Fiduciary Proposal on Sales of Insurance Products

Summary: This paper explains the basis for the conclusions about the impact of the Department of Labor proposal to amend the fiduciary investment advice regulation and the prohibited transaction exemptions for sales of insurance products to plans, participants and IRAs.

Source: Drinkerbiddle.com, June 2015

A Fiduciary Throwdown in D.C.

Summary: The Bipartisan Policy Center convened what at least one participant termed a "policy wonk throwdown" in the nation's capital May 27. The subject? The Department of Labor's fiduciary proposal. The actual title of the event was "Champions, Critics and Consequences of a New Fiduciary Standard," and it covered all that ground and more.

Source: Napa-net.org, May 2015

FINRA Chief Pans DOL Fiduciary Proposal

Summary: Richard Ketchum voices support for SEC to move on a uniform fiduciary standard for brokers and advisors, while warning of unintended consequences from DOL's proposal.

Source: Financial-Planning.com, May 2015

The Fiduciary Hierarchy

Summary: There is a hierarchy of service models available in the 401k marketplace. Each of which offers Plan Sponsors a different level of support with regard to investment selection and monitoring. Here is a brief description of each in the order of lowest to highest fiduciary protection.

Source: Retirementplanblog.com, May 2015

Former Employee Plan Participants: What Is in Their Best Interest?

Summary: Given the large impact excessive fees can have on former participant IRA rollovers, sponsors are beginning to evaluate potential solutions to address these issues and to assist their former employees. Regardless of employment status, companies and their retirement committees want current and former employees to be able to stay on a path toward a successful retirement. Article discusses of what some sponsors are currently doing and a few ideas concerning future changes within the industry that should help protect former employees' retirement savings.

Source: Milliman.com, May 2015

Proposed Fiduciary Definition Regulations Will Impact Investment Adviser Practices

Summary: One result of the proposed regulations and accompanying prohibited transaction exemptions is the "ERISAfication" of IRAs. Because of the significant changes in operation that might be required for investment advisers and other plan consultants, it is important to anticipate how these proposals could impact current practices.

Source: Faegrebd.com, May 2015

What's the Difference Between "Sole" Interests and "Best" Interests?

Summary: So what is the difference between "sole" interest and "best" interest? And why does it matter? Fi360 CEO Blaine Aikin looks at this distinction and asks whether some conflicts are what's "best" for investors.

Source: Fi360.com, May 2015

Lawmakers Ask DOL's Perez to Extend Fiduciary Comment Period

Summary: Lawmakers asked Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in two separate letters this week to extend by another 45 days the comment period on the Department's redraft of its rule to amend the definition of fiduciary under ERISA. Fiduciary advocates tell Perez to rebuff requests.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, May 2015

Retirement in America: The Fiduciary Definition in Context

Summary: The DOL recently proposed new regulations to address the changing times and to help eliminate conflicts of interest in retirement planning and investing. This 13 page white paper take a look at the bigger retirement picture, and consider how the DOL’s proposal may affect retirement preparation in the United States.

Source: Mtrustcompany.com , May 2015

Schwab CEO: Better That DOL Goes First on Fiduciary Rule

Summary: Like most financial industry officials, Charles Schwab Corp. president and chief executive Walter Bettinger II wants the DOL and the SEC to coordinate their efforts on raising investment advice standards for brokers. But, he's afraid that DOL and SEC could end up with two different standards, and that would confuse the public.

Source: Investmentnews.com (registration may be required), May 2015

The New Fiduciary Advice Regulation and Its Likely Impact on Advisors

Summary: The proposed fiduciary definition changes are so great that advisors should be aware of them now and perhaps begin adapting their practices to the anticipated changes. This article discusses the DOL proposal and the exemption for commissions (and, possibly, rollovers) and their likely impact on advisors.

Source: Hartfordfunds.com, May 2015

Impact of Updated Fiduciary Investment Advice Definition on Large Plans

Summary: The proposed DOL fiduciary regulations are expected to have a transformational impact on the retirement landscape. The most fundamental effects of the proposed regulations will be on small plans and IRAs, as well as their investment advisers, consultants or other service providers. However, the proposed regulations will also impact the landscape for large retirement plans in various ways as outlined here.

Source: Kilpatricktownsend.com, May 2015

What Does Retirement Plan "Best Interests" Really Mean

Summary: The DOL asserts the new fiduciary rule will require brokers to act in the "best interest" of the clients they serve, whether they be institutional or individual. But the DOL never really defines exactly what "best interest" means. Author canvassed retirement plan service providers from coast to coast to see if he could discover the phrase means.

Source: Fiduciarynews.com, May 2015

Are You My Fiduciary?

Summary: When the DOL's proposed fiduciary regulation becomes effective, plan sponsors, IRA owners and plan participants should be asking, "Are You My Fiduciary"? Understanding whether or not the protective wing of a fiduciary pertains to the plan or IRA will require an analysis of both the proposed expansion of the rule and its complex exceptions.

Source: Benefitsbryancave.com, May 2015

What the DOL Fiduciary Proposal Means for Banks

Summary: The DOL issued a draft proposal earlier this month that would require financial advisers to provide retirement savings advice that is in a customer's "best interest" in an effort to minimize conflicts of interest. This article lays out some frequently asked questions about the rule, including why it's important for bankers.

Source: Financial-Planning.com, May 2015

Five Ways the DOL Could Improve Its Fiduciary Proposal

Summary: Objective observers should conclude that it is too early to tell exactly how this complicated fiduciary proposal will affect the advice market. But it is, in fact, a proposal, not a final rule, and public comments may bring about some needed clarifications and changes. Here is the author's list of five steps the DOL could take to improve the proposal.

Source: Pensionsbenefitslaw.com, April 2015

Senate Democrats Push Back on DOL Fiduciary Plan

Summary: The Obama administration plan to tighten rules on brokers is facing blowback from the president's own party. Key Senate Democrats met this week with Labor Secretary Tom Perez to argue that his plan could backfire and make it harder for consumers to get investment advice.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, April 2015

Department of Labor Issues Sweeping Fiduciary Rule Proposal

Summary: Labor Secretary Thomas Perez described the sweeping proposal as follows: "This boils down to a very simple concept: if someone is paid to give you retirement investment advice, that person should be working in your best interest." Yet, the more than 120-page proposed rule is far from simple. Its requirements and impact on access to advice about retirement savings accounts are far from certain.

Source: Littler.com, April 2015

Execs See Fiduciary Proposal as Complicated, Costly

Summary: Early assessments of the Department of Labor's fiduciary proposal find the new rules will be complicated to implement and costly for the industry, according to wealth management executives. Answering questions during recent earnings calls, industry CEOs and other leaders found themselves peppered with questions from analysts asking about the impact a new rule may have on the bottom line.

Source: Financial-Planning.com, April 2015

DOL Not Budging on Fiduciary Rule Comment Period

Summary: Labor Secretary Thomas Perez indicated Thursday that his department will not extend further the 75-day comment period for its redraft to amend the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, April 2015

The New Fiduciary Regulation Proposal, Part I: All It Was Cracked Up to Be?

Summary: This five page document gives a quick outline of what the DOL's new fiduciary proposal does, along with our first impressions. It concludes that "the industry are approaching the proposal with caution and, perhaps, some level of optimism."

Source: Ihflaw.com , April 2015

Re-Proposed Definition of a Fiduciary Widely Prohibits Personalized Investment Assistance

Summary: The framework set up by the DOL could work conceptually, but in its current form, it would have the same effects as the original 2010 proposal -- cutting off the option for low and middle-income individuals and small businesses to receive personalized investment assistance.

Source: Davis-Harman.com , April 2015

Will Brokers Bow to Higher Fiduciary Standard?

Summary: One of the most hotly debated topics in wealth management is the role of the stockbroker. The DOL entered the fray by unveiling a plan to make registered representatives of brokerages meet the same standard as those overseeing client accounts at registered investment advisers. Still, any shake-up hinges on politics, with lobbyists for the brokerage industry seeking to soften the blow.

Source: Institutionalinvestor.com, April 2015

Why Exactly DOL's Latest Action Is So Shocking to So Many Brokers

Summary: The DOL unveiled its much anticipated conflict of interest rule for retirement investment advice. The financial services industry has been anticipating stiff 401k rules for years. Even so, the 120-page proposed rule was a shocker, carrying an IRA bombshell and a brand new "best interest standard" for brokers.

Source: Riabiz.com, April 2015

DOL Reproposes Fiduciary Rule for ERISA Plans and IRAs

Summary: The DOL issued a proposed rule defining the term fiduciary for investment advisers and brokers providing investment advice to participants or beneficiaries of ERISA-governed employee benefit plans and IRAs. The DOL also issued several new and amended versions of prohibited transaction exemptions in connection with the proposed rule. This is a comprehensive overview.

Source: Practicallaw.com, April 2015

Captrust's May Fiduciary Update

Summary: This quarter saw continuing activity in the area of cases involving plan and investment fees. Plan fiduciaries settled two significant cases and follow-on cases against Fidelity concerning float income practices were dismissed.

Source: Captrustadvisors.com, April 2015

DOL Proposes New Fiduciary Rule for Retirement Advisors

Summary: The DOL published its long awaited proposed rule addressing conflicts of interest in retirement advice. This is an overview of the proposed rule prepared by the Wagner Law Group.

Source: Wagnerlawgroup.com, April 2015

DOL's Fiduciary Proposal Preserves Advice -- But at What Cost?

Summary: While initial concerns about preserving the ability for 401k participants to work with the advisor of their choice on rollovers appear to be addressed in the new DOL fiduciary proposal, the new compliance regimen looks, according to the author, to be significant, adding cost and complexity to the process.

Source: Usaretirement.org, April 2015

DOL Seeks Comments on Proposed Retirement Advice Rule

Summary: While much of the concerns behind the DOL's fiduciary rule proposal involve conflicted investment advice to individual retirement account holders, the sweeping rule would also change how advice is provided to participants in 401k and other defined contribution plans.

Source: Shrm.org, April 2015

Game Changer: A First Look at the DOL's 2015 Conflict Of Interest Proposal

Summary: The retirement plan industry has been waiting for an updated definition of fiduciary regulation from the DOL since 2010. On April 14, 2015, we got it and, at first glance, it's a game-changer. The purpose of this article is to provide a technical, "first glance" overview of the proposal and some early thoughts about possible ramifications.

Source: Napa-net.org , April 2015

A First Look at the DOL's Revised Fiduciary Rule

Summary: U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez introduced the DOL's proposed new fiduciary rule which will expand the types of retirement investment advice covered by fiduciary protections. Here is our first look at the proposal.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, April 2015

SEC's Commitment to Tougher Broker Rules Questioned

Summary: The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard said Thursday it has doubts about the SEC's ability to formulate a fiduciary standard that will protect the interest of Americans trying to save for retirement.

Source: Benefitspro.com, April 2015

Mary Jo White's Support Nudges Fiduciary Standard Forward

Summary: The SEC Chief says she favors a standard that covers all retirement plan advisers. Plan sponsors are hopeful, despite the difficult politics.

Source: Institutionalinvestor.com, March 2015

NAPA Adopts Proactive Stance Against Fiduciary Standard

Summary: Brian Graff, executive director and CEO of NAPA, says that the retirement business has at long last come onto Washington's radar, but the increased scrutiny is exposing a series of long-standing biases against retirement advisers that he fears will ultimately make it difficult for them to provide assistance to employees who need it the most.

Source: Benefitnews.com, March 2015

SEC Aligns With White House on Need to Address Fiduciary Standards

Summary: SEC Chair Mary Jo White confirmed March 17 that the Commission will "implement a uniform fiduciary duty for broker-dealers and investment advisors where the standard is to act in the best interest of the investor."

Source: Asppa.org, March 2015

SIFMA Claims White House Figures on DOL Rule Flawed

Summary: The White House is using flawed methodology to assert that abusive trading practices are costing U.S. investors up to $17 billion a year in retirement savings, according to a report released by a Wall Street group that opposes toughening rules on brokers.

Source: Investmentnews.com, March 2015

Wall Street Seeks Wedge in Fight Against 401k Rules

Summary: There's a gap between the White House and Wall Street's main regulator over a push to tighten broker rules. To the investment industry, it's an opening to exploit.

Source: Benefitspro.com, March 2015

Bill Would Require DOL to Defer Release of Fiduciary Definition

Summary: Rep. Ann Wagner has introduced the Retail Investors Protection Act which would require the DOL to defer release of new fiduciary regulations until the SEC issues fiduciary regulations first.

Source: Ascensus.com, March 2015

Supreme Court Could Take on Case Involving Fiduciary Burden of Proof, Damages

Summary: The Supreme Court signaled its interest in taking a case questioning whether fiduciaries bear the burden of proof and whether they can be liable for monetary damages. In orders issued Monday, the Supreme Court asked for the solicitor general's opinion before deciding whether to grant the petition for review.

Source: Pionline.com, March 2015

DC Execs Expecting Big Changes From Obama Push On Fiduciary Standard

Summary: With President Barack Obama now leading the charge, a multiyear battle to update a fiduciary standard for anyone giving retirement investment advice has defined contribution plan executives and service providers bracing for big changes.

Source: Pionline.com, March 2015

The Blindsided Fiduciary: Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Summary: Alliance Bernstein recently released the shocking result of a survey it had taken of plan sponsors: a whopping 37% of those fiduciaries surveyed didn't know that they were fiduciaries. It is possible to be an ERISA fiduciary and not know it, because no acknowledgement of fiduciary status is required. Article has a short checklist of people who are or are not fiduciaries.

Source: Pensionsbenefitslaw.com, February 2015

SEC's Gallagher: Fiduciary Rulemaking a "Runaway Train"

Summary: The DOL's much-anticipated fiduciary reproposal drew intense criticism Feb. 20 from SEC Commissioner Daniel M. Gallagher. Gallagher’s comments, made at the "SEC Speaks in 2015" event, were particularly harsh. Not only regarding the potential impact of the DOL's proposed extension of ERISA's fiduciary definition, but also on the process undertaken thus far in pursuit of its implementation.

Source: Napa-net.org, February 2015

President to Move Fiduciary Rule Forward

Summary: President Barack Obama is expected to announce the DOL's proposed fiduciary rule is officially under review at the Office of Budget Management. The proposed rule would require advisors overseeing retirement plans to act under a fiduciary standard, putting client interests ahead of all other considerations when making investment recommendations.

Source: Wealthmanagement.com, February 2015

SEC Chief to Break Her Silence on Fiduciary in 'Short Term'

Summary: SEC's Mary Jo White said Friday that she would speak about her position regarding a rule to put brokers under a fiduciary mandate "in the short term," stating that it remains a priority of hers "to get the Commission in a position to make that decision" on such a rule. SEC has been providing "technical assistance" to the DOL on its fiduciary rulemaking.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, February 2015

U.S. Chamber Examines Potential Harmful Impact of Fiduciary Regulation on Investors

Summary: In anticipation of the DOL's re-proposal of the definition of fiduciary regulation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness and Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits division released a white paper on the potential negative, unintended consequences of broadening the current definition of fiduciary.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, February 2015

The Future of Outsourcing 3(16) Fiduciary Services

Summary: With the popularity of fiduciary outsourcing there has been a significant wave of new companies who will take on these delegated rolls, and recently, there has been a surge in the 3(16) Plan Administrative space. The focus of this article is on the 3(16) Plan Administrative fiduciary.

Source: Tparesources.com, February 2015

The Uninsured Fiduciary: Have You Read the Fine Print in Your Policy?

Summary: If you are a plan fiduciary and your company has purchased fiduciary liability insurance, you and your board may have simply assumed that the policy would cover any fiduciary breach. A decision just issued by a Pennsylvania court denying coverage to CIGNA is a wakeup call to carefully review such policies to determine what they do and do not cover.

Source: Pensionsbenefitslaw.com, February 2015

The Different Roles Your Plan's Advisor May Play

Summary: Is your advisor a fiduciary or a co-fiduciary for your plan? Or, is your advisor refusing to assume any fiduciary role? Is your business liable for your retirement plan's investment decisions? Is your investment advisor, your plan's investment manager? These can be confusing roles with very different impacts to your organization's retirement plan.

Source: Belr.com, February 2015

How to Satisfy the Fiduciary Duties of Your 401k Plan

Summary: If your organization sponsors a 401k or qualified retirement plan, then, as a plan trustee, you are legally responsible for the decision-making surrounding the plan. These fiduciary duties are something many plan sponsors aren't aware of. But even if trustees recognize them, they usually don't understand what the responsibilities entail.

Source: Sbnonline.com, February 2015

New Best Practices Aim to Codify Advisors' Fiduciary Duty

Summary: A coalition of fiduciary advocates has unveiled a set of best practices for advisors that they envision could eventually become an industry certification, providing consumers with an easily recognizable designation that a financial professional is bound to act in their best interest.

Source: Onwallstreet.com, February 2015

The White House Puts Its Best Obamacare Minds Behind Cleaning Up the 401k Business

Summary: It took forever to come but The White House has endorsed a very intense fiduciary standard with a withering attack on the way financial advice is currently applied to the savings of retirees.

Source: Riabiz.com, January 2015

Fiduciary Best Practices Proposed

Summary: The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard has proposed eleven "Best Practices" fiduciaries should meet to serve the best interest of their clients. They are reproduced here and the Institute is seeking comment.

Source: 401khelpcenter.com, January 2015

NAPA Takes Position Against DOL's Fiduciary Rule

Summary: This month, the DOL is expected to propose a "fiduciary rule" for financial advisors that provide investment advice to retirement plans. It is the authors opinion that, "when you pay a financial advisor for investment advice, they should work in your best interest and not theirs." But, a growing number of powerful industry groups disagree.

Source: Employeefiduciary.com, January 2015

Why Brokers Should Be Bound to a Fiduciary Duty

Summary: It would be highly controversial for Obama to impose the higher legal standard, called a fiduciary duty, on brokers. Wall Street will hate the requirement that brokers act solely in a client's interest or risk getting sued, and will probably ask Congress to overturn it.

Source: Benefitspro.com, January 2015

Can a Fiduciary Duty for Investment Advisers Co-Exist With Commissions?

Summary: Legislative and regulatory consultant Duane Thompson writes, "Given the premise that a fee arrangement is inextricably bound with the fiduciary standard, it would seem logical to assume that a salesperson working on commission cannot be a fiduciary. However -- spoiler alert -- you would be wrong. That is not to say that working on a commission basis and serving the client's best interest is an easy thing to do -- it's just far more difficult, at least in legal terms."

Source: Kitces.com, January 2015

White House Memo Offers a Peek at DOL Fiduciary Strategy

Summary: The White House believes that many retirement plan participants aren't adequately protected from advisors with conflicts of interest. That's why President Barack Obama's chief economic advisor supports the DOL's effort to amend the definition of fiduciary in retirement plans.

Source: Thinkadvisor.com, January 2015

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