Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any exceptions from the DOL rule?

Jan 9, 2017, 14:41 PM
While the rule broadly treats almost all interactions between advisors and clients as fiduciary advice, it does make clear that certain types of activities would not make someone a fiduciary under ERISA:

  • General communications such as newsletters, research reports, general marketing materials, and speeches and presentations at conferences and widely attended events would not typically be considered fiduciary advice.
  • You will also be able to provide educational information about financial, investment, and retirement matters without becoming a fiduciary, although there are some restrictions on your ability to discuss specific investment products. For example, if you are working with a participant in an employment-based plan, you can identify specific investments as part of an asset allocation model as long as you list all of the options available in the plan within each asset class. This is not permitted if you are working with an IRA owner.
  • The rule also provides an exception for arm’s-length sales transactions (sometimes referred to as the “seller’s exception”), but it is only available if you provide advice about such transactions to an “independent fiduciary,” which can be a bank, an insurance company, a broker-dealer, a registered investment adviser, or a fiduciary with at least $50 million in assets under management.

These are just three examples – Your firm will determine whether specific activities would make you a fiduciary under the rule.