The DOL recently released the long-anticipated final version of the rules addressing conflicts of interest in retirement advice from ERISA fiduciaries. Advisors that provide investment advice to plans must avoid payments that create conflicts of interest, unless the payments comply with an exception. There are two primary exceptions, the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) and the Principal Transaction Exemption. The BICE allows firms to continue to rely on already existing compensation schemes and fee practices, provided they follow certain steps to mitigate conflicts of interest and that the advice they provide is in the “best interest” of the customers. The Principal Transaction Exemption allows advisors to buy or sell certain recommended debt securities or other investments out of their own inventories to or from plans. While the rules technically go into effect in April 2017, the BICE and Principal Transaction Exemption will have a phase-in period starting in April 2017 with full compliance required by January 1, 2018.
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