Subject: Mitigation Techniques

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”

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”