DOL’s New Fiduciary Rule & the SEC’s Best Interests Rule – Is No News Good News?

Neither the Department of Labor (DOL) nor the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has given any indication of how they are progressing with their new respective fiduciary rules. Last year, both agencies said they would publish their respective rules in September of this year. At this point, it seems unlikely either agency will meet this deadline. Additionally, it is possible these rules may never materialize … Continue reading DOL’s New Fiduciary Rule & the SEC’s Best Interests Rule – Is No News Good News?

Department of Labor Issues Relief Guidance for Victims of California Wildfires

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued benefit plan guidance and relief for plans and participants affected by the 2018 California Wildfires.  The DOL recognizes that plan sponsors and participants may be affected in their ability to achieve compliance with various regulatory requirements.  The guidance generally applies to all parties involved in employee benefit plans located in areas identified by FEMA as disaster areas, … Continue reading Department of Labor Issues Relief Guidance for Victims of California Wildfires

Members of Congress Call Out the Department of Labor on its Enforcement Activities Regarding ESOPs

Twenty-seven members of Congress sent a letter to the president which, in its essence, claims the DOL is engaging in enforcement activities against ESOPs without providing meaningful guidance. This letter states the DOL “has released very little guidance on substantive issues including, for example, valuations….” It goes on to state that “the Department has also employed counterproductive enforcement tactics, including taking inconsistent positions on legal … Continue reading Members of Congress Call Out the Department of Labor on its Enforcement Activities Regarding ESOPs

DOL’s New Fiduciary Rule & the SEC’s Best Interests Rule – Hopefully they will Intersect

This past March, almost 10 years after the “new” Fiduciary and Best Interest Contract (BIC) rules were first proposed, the Fifth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the rules in their entirety. The Department of Labor (DOL) elected not to appeal to the Supreme Court. Quickly following this, and to no one’s surprise, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a package of … Continue reading DOL’s New Fiduciary Rule & the SEC’s Best Interests Rule – Hopefully they will Intersect

Beware of the IRS and DOL: Four Red Flags They Seek on Form 5500

The Form 5500 is an ERISA requirement for retirement plans to report and disclose operating procedures. Advisors use this to confirm that plans are managed according to ERISA standards. The form also allows individuals access to information, protecting the rights and benefits of the plan participants and beneficiaries covered under the plan. Make sure you are compliant. Be aware of red flags that the IRS … Continue reading Beware of the IRS and DOL: Four Red Flags They Seek on Form 5500

Do You Send Participant Notices via Email? Should you?

The number of notices and disclosures required to retirement plan participants has increased while methods to access information changed drastically. Many people receive their news and information on electronic devices through apps and social media. What remains the same is the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) guidance about permissible methods to provide notices electronically. There is a disconnect between how people are accustomed to receiving information … Continue reading Do You Send Participant Notices via Email? Should you?

DOL Throws Stumbling Block In Way of Lifetime Income Options Serving as Default Investment Option

Because of a recent information letter issued by the DOL, it is unlikely many plan sponsors will adopt a lifetime income option as the default investment in their 401(k) plans. This letter, issued to TIAA, makes it clear lifetime income options cannot serve as a QDIA in 401(k) plans. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in offering 401(k) plan participants a lifetime income … Continue reading DOL Throws Stumbling Block In Way of Lifetime Income Options Serving as Default Investment Option

House of Representatives Enters the Fiduciary Fray

The ongoing saga of the DOL’s fiduciary rule is now in its eighth year. The rule was first proposed in 2010 and promptly withdrawn amidst much controversy. The rule was re-proposed in 2015 and became final last year. Despite expectations that the Trump administration might scrap the Rule entirely, it has survived thus far. The essence of the Fiduciary Rule is that any person making … Continue reading House of Representatives Enters the Fiduciary Fray

IRS/DOL Plan Error Self-Correction Programs

In the event that a plan discovers a practice breach based on IRS or DOL regulations, they may be well advised to attempt to apply for one of the self-correction programs identified below. It is typically advantageous to self-correct prior to the error being discovered by the IRS or DOL, as penalties and consequences may be significantly more severe. IRS Self-Correction Programs Plan errors can … Continue reading IRS/DOL Plan Error Self-Correction Programs

Giving Thanks to Plan Participants, Plan Sponsors and the DOL

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Lots of food, football, good cheer and you don’t have to buy presents. It is also a time to reflect and be thankful for the good fortune in our lives, and for those who love us or have helped us in some way. I am thankful to many in the retirement plan industry who I have partnered with and learned … Continue reading Giving Thanks to Plan Participants, Plan Sponsors and the DOL