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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > DOL

Trone, Swisher to Craft ARA, Morningstar Fiduciary Education Program

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The American Retirement Association announced Tuesday that it has picked fiduciary experts Don Trone, CEO of 3ethos, and Peter Swisher, senior vice president, National Sales at Pentegra Retirement Services to help develop ARA’s fiduciary education and best practices program for advisors.

ARA announced in early July that it had partnered with Morningstar to develop a fiduciary education and best practices program for advisors.

The IRA Fiduciary Adviser education, to be available in the fourth quarter, will prepare advisors for a “continuously shifting regulatory environment,” most notably complying with the Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule, Brian Graff, ARA’s CEO, told ThinkAdvisor in July.

“A quarter million advisors are subject to a fiduciary standard,” Graff said, “DOL says you have to be a fiduciary, but they don’t say what that means,” so the program, currently in the “design process,” will go beyond just DOL requirements and provide “comprehensive training” on what a fiduciary needs to know.

Trone told ThinkAdvisor on Tuesday that he has “always wanted to develop a fiduciary training program with Morningstar, and working with ARA is an added treat.”

The IRA Fiduciary Adviser education program, designed to prepare advisors for a continuously shifting regulatory environment, will be delivered through Morningstar Advisor Workstation. The program, ARA says, will provide sophisticated tracking and reporting mechanisms to support broker-dealer and registered investment advisor compliance requirements.  

Nevin Adams, ARA’s head of communications and marketing, says that Trone and Swisher, as subject matter experts, are “basically writing the core content for what will become the three education modules of the new program.”

ARA and Morningstar will “take that content, rework it to take into account adult education best practices, flow it past a task force of front-line advisor experts for validation, and then build the final education modules.”       

Adams adds that Trone and Swisher’s work “is key because it lays the foundation” for the program.

Chris DeGrassi, executive director of the National Tax-Deferred Savings Association, and program director for the IRA Fiduciary Adviser education program, noted in a statement that there’s been a “tremendous outpouring of interest in this new program. We have worked for years with Don and Pete on a variety of projects, and couldn’t have a more capable and respected team of subject matter experts for this important program.”

DeGrassi said that advisors “need credible, practical instruction in how to comply with the [DOL] fiduciary regulation, and we’re honored to be able to bring this kind of program to market at this critical time.”

Trone — who’s been a critic of DOL’s fiduciary rule — is principal founder of fi360, the accredited investment fiduciary and accredited investment fiduciary analyst designations. He was also founder of the Foundation for Fiduciary Studies and served on the ERISA Advisory Council.

He told DOL executives during the hearings held last August on the rule that DOL’s plan “is not a fiduciary standard, but rather punitive rules,” adding that the proposed plan is “going to make it easier for bad advisors to hide behind the complexity of the rules, and make it harder for honest advisors to provide their services.”

Swisher, a top retirement plan expert and thought leader, has written more than 20 articles and white papers.

— Check out Hundreds of Thousands of 401(k)s Up for Grabs After DOL Fiduciary Rule on ThinkAdvisor.


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