Advisors snapped to attention when Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said in a surprise commentary in The Wall Street Journal that the Department of Labor would not further delay the first stage of the fiduciary rule's implementation. The Labor Department did back off some of the compliance requirements for the rest of this year, however, and said it plans to collect more information. What does this mean for advisors and other wealth management specialists? Scroll through to see 10 things you need to know right now about the fiduciary rule.
Applies to IRAs
The fiduciary rule applies to investment advice concerning IRAs, ERISA plans and plans covered by Section 4975 of the Tax Code.
Best interest standard starts June 9
On this date, financial institutions and advisors to covered plans must provide advice in the retirement investor’s best interest, which includes a duty of prudence and loyalty.
BIC exemption compliance starts January 1
The extensive compliance requirements of the best interest contract exemption, which would apply to non-level fee products, are not required until January 1, 2018.
DoL expects changes by January 1
During the transition period (June 9 to January 1), the Labor Department will collect additional information from the industry to determine how compliance practices such as the use of mutual fund “clean shares” should re-shape the rule.
Proprietary products with commissions permitted
During the transition period, firms can recommend proprietary products with commissions so long as they satisfy the best interest standard.
Need policies and procedures
The Labor Department expects firms to adopt policies and procedures necessary to ensure compliance with the best interest standard.
Robo advisors can rely on BIC exemption
Robo advisors may rely on the BIC exemption during the transition period to ensure compliance with the rule.
Investment advice narrowly defined
Investment advice, for purposes of the rule, does not include plan information or general financial, investment and retirement information.
Can rely on written representations from intermediaries
The rule does not apply if an independent fiduciary provides written representations (including negative consent) that the fiduciary is a bank, insurance company, BD, RIA or independent fiduciary managing at least $50 million.
DoL will focus on compliance over enforcement
The Labor Department says it will prioritize compliance over enforcement during the transition period so long as firms work diligently and in good faith to comply with the rule.