DOL Releases Its Delay of Fiduciary Rule

DOL issues final rule to delay compliance date by 60 days; asks for comments on Trump memorandum

The Justice Department told a federal court on Tuesday that the Office of Management and Budget has concluded its review of the Labor Department's final rule delaying the implementation date of its fiduciary rule by 60 days — from April 10 to June 9.

Labor announced Tuesday evening its 60-day delay of the rule. According to a copy of the final rule set out in DOJ’s letter, Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration final rule – to be published in the Federal Register by Friday — extends the compliance date of the final regulation, published on April 8, 2016, defining who is a “fiduciary” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code.

Labor, DOJ said, has requested that the rule be made “publicly available” Wednesday morning and published in the Federal Register no later than April 7.

According to Labor's release announcing the delay, under the terms of the extension, advisors to retirement investors will be treated as fiduciaries and have an obligation to give advice that adheres to “impartial conduct standards” beginning on June 9 rather than on April 10, 2017, as originally sucheduled.

"These fiduciary standards require advisors to adhere to a best interest standard when making investment recommendations, charge no more than reasonable compensation for their services and refrain from making misleading statements," DOL stated in the Tuesday release.

The department requested in the final rule delaying the compliance date comments on the issues raised by President Donald Trump's Feb. 3 memorandum, and related questions. Labor "urges commenters to submit data, information and analyses responsive to the requests, so that it can complete its work pursuant to the memorandum as carefully, thoughtfully and expeditiously as possible."

EBSA says the delay is needed so that Labor can conduct a review of the rule, as directed by Trump.

The final rule also extends for 60 days the applicability dates of the Best Interest Contract Exemption and the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries and employee benefit plans and IRAs.

EBSA states that the rule requires that fiduciaries relying on these exemptions for covered transactions adhere only to the Impartial Conduct Standards (including the “best interest” standard), as conditions of the exemptions during the transition period from June 9, 2017, through January 1, 2018.

The fiduciary definition in the rule published on April 8, 2016, and Impartial Conduct Standards in these exemptions, are applicable on June 9, 2017, while compliance with the remaining conditions in these exemptions, such as requirements to make specific written disclosures and representations of fiduciary compliance in communications with investors, is not required until January 1, 2018, EBSA says.

The applicability of amendments to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 84-24 are also delayed until January 1, 2018, other than the Impartial Conduct Standards, which will become applicable on June 9, 2017.

Also extended for 60 days is the applicability dates of amendments to other previously granted exemptions.

--- Check out DOL Fiduciary Rule Winners and Losers on ThinkAdvisor.

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