Subject: DOL

Compensation Requirements under Proposed Amendments to PTE 2020-02

Broker-dealers and their registered representatives (advisors) providing services to private sector tax-qualified and ERISA-governed retirement plans, participants in those plans and IRA owners (collectively, Retirement Investors) are subject to a number of compensation rules.

ERISA’s fiduciary responsibility rules mandate that ERISA plans pay no more than reasonable compensation to service providers (including advisors).

In addition, the prohibited transaction rules that apply to Retirement Investors set limitations on compensation. For example, if a service provider receives compensation in excess of a reasonable amount, the excess is a prohibited transaction for both the plan fiduciary and the service provider. It is also a prohibited transaction if an advisor receives compensation that varies based upon the recommendation made (i.e., variable compensation) or third-party compensation as a result of the recommendation, unless a prohibited transaction exemption applies. Lastly, some prohibited transaction exemptions – like Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 2020-02 – have other limitations on compensation. This post focuses on the compensation limitations in the DOL’s proposed amendments to PTE 2020-02.

Continue reading “Compensation Requirements under Proposed Amendments to PTE 2020-02”

What Broker-Dealers Need to Know About Correcting PTE 2020-02 Mistakes

Key Takeaways

The DOL expanded its interpretation of fiduciary advice in the Preamble to PTE 2020-02 and as a result, many more broker-dealers and their registered representatives (investment professionals) are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors, including rollover recommendations. Therefore, they will need the protection provided by PTE 2020-02. The PTE contains a number of conditions and if those conditions are not met, a prohibited transaction will result.

The good news is that the PTE provides a self-correction process. Unfortunately, some conditions of the self-correction process are difficult to interpret and additional DOL guidance is needed.

To avoid these challenges, broker-dealers should implement good processes and documentation to satisfy the PTE conditions and closely supervise their investment professionals to ensure that the processes are followed.

Continue reading “What Broker-Dealers Need to Know About Correcting PTE 2020-02 Mistakes”

Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Mitigating Conflicts of Interest

Key Takeaways

  • PTE 2020-02 requires that financial institutions—such as broker-dealers—mitigate conflicts of interest “to the extent that a reasonable person reviewing the policies and procedures and incentives as a whole would conclude that they do not create an incentive for the firm or the investment professional to place their interests ahead of the interest of the retirement investor.
  • The DOL has issued FAQs that provide examples of mitigation techniques to reduce compliance risks in connection with compensation structures.
  • While there are a variety of mitigation techniques that can be used for different types of conflicts, the following two elements need to be part of mitigating every type of conflict: (1) an appropriate best interest process for developing the recommendation; and (2) supervision of the proper implementation of that process.

Background

The DOL’s prohibited transaction exemption (PTE) 2020-02 (Improving Investment Advice for Workers & Retirees), allows broker-dealers and their registered representatives (advisors) to receive conflicted compensation resulting from non-discretionary fiduciary investment advice to private sector tax-qualified and ERISA-governed retirement plans, participants in those plans, and IRA owners. (The PTE refers to those 3 classes of investors as “retirement investors.”) In addition, in the preamble to the PTE, the DOL announced an expanded definition of fiduciary advice, meaning that many more broker-dealers and their advisors are fiduciaries for their recommendations to retirement investors – including rollover recommendations – and therefore, will need the protection provided by the exemption.

Continue reading “Compliance with PTE 2020-02: Mitigating Conflicts of Interest”

The DOL’s Temporary Enforcement Policy: Potential Traps for the Unwary

The overturning of the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule by the Fifth Circuit last year had two impacts: first, the definition of “fiduciary” for investment advice to plans and IRAs reverted back to the narrower Five-Part Test issued in 1975; second, the Best Interest Contract Exemption (or “BIC Exemption”) and amendments to other exemptions also ceased to exist.

Continue reading “The DOL’s Temporary Enforcement Policy: Potential Traps for the Unwary”