Some commenters raised concerns about the QPAM exemption and a few commenters cited a GAO report regarding OED procedures as evidence that OED should not be permitted to oversee this process. Some commenters cited a recent Supreme Court case, Lucia v. SEC, which they said struck down a similar structure. Other commenters stated that this eligibility provision overstepped the Department’s authority. The certification provides an important protection of Retirement Investors by creating accountability for the retrospective review and report at an executive level within the Financial Institution. Without a requirement that a Senior Executive Officer be held accountable by certifying the review, there is no assurance that any person in the leadership of a Financial Institution will review or be aware of its contents. The Department is required to find that the exemption is protective of, and in the interests of, Plans and their participants and beneficiaries, and IRA owners.

Therefore, the Department expects Financial Institutions to develop and implement procedures that are least burdensome and work with their current system to meet the standard set forth in the exemption. The Department also requested comments on this overall estimate and the cost burdens across different entities. In response, dotbig the Department received several comments concerning its proposed cost burden analysis. After careful reviews of those comments, the Department revised its cost estimate upward from the proposed cost estimate. For example, in the proposal, the Department applied an hourly rate for compliance attorneys based on the U.S.

Furthermore, the Department notes that all Title I fiduciaries remain subject to the uniform fiduciary responsibility provisions in ERISA section 404 with respect to Title I Plan assets. Finally, the Department has included provisions in the exemption, which enable fiduciaries to cure violations of the exemption conditions, under certain circumstances, and thereby avoid loss of the exemption. Although the exemption places the burden on the Financial Institution and Investment Professional not to charge fees in excess of reasonable compensation, the Department declines to require documentation as suggested by the commenter. Under the exemption, the Financial Institution and Investment Professional are not required to recommend the transaction that is the lowest cost or that generates the lowest fees without regard to other relevant factors.

  • An examination of state-registered IAs reveals about 80 percent reported only up to two employees.
  • Although some commenters expressed the general view that the exemption relies upon self-policing, the requirement that Financial Institutions make their report available to the Department within 10 business days upon request ensures that the Department retains an appropriate level of oversight over exemption compliance.
  • Section II of the exemption sets forth the general conditions of the exemption.
  • The exemption specifically entitles the Financial Institution to submit a petition informing the Department of the conviction and seeking a determination that the Financial Institution’s continued reliance on the exemption would not be contrary to the purposes of the exemption.
  • It is enough, in that case, that the parties have an ongoing advisory relationship with respect to Title I Plans.

Some commenters stated the Department’s proposed interpretation did not go far enough in protecting Retirement Investors, and that all rollover recommendations should be deemed fiduciary investment advice regardless of whether the five-part test is satisfied. Commenters noted that financial professionals have adopted titles such as financial consultant, financial planner, and wealth manager. One commenter dotbig review argued that a rollover recommendation should be viewed as always satisfying the “regular basis” prong because, in its view, there are two distinct steps—the decision to do a rollover, and the decision to invest its proceeds. On the other hand, a few commenters urged the Department to increase alignment of the policies and procedures with securities laws, including Regulation Best Interest.

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Parties can and do, for example, enter into one-time sales transactions in which there is no ongoing investment advice relationship, or expectation of such a relationship. If, for example, a participant purchases dotbig investments an annuity based upon a recommendation from an insurance agent without receiving subsequent, ongoing advice, the advice does not meet the “regular basis” prong as specifically required by the regulation.

In this regard, the Department declines to adopt the position suggested by a commenter that, for purposes of the exemption, commission-based incentives are limited to ones where incentives are tied to the sale of specific financial or insurance products within a limited period of time. Among other things, this approach would be inconsistent with the broad definition of a conflict of interest in the exemption, as an interest that might incline a Financial Institution or Investment Professional—consciously or unconsciously—to make a recommendation that is not in the Best Interest of the Retirement Investor. To comply with Section II of the exemption, Financial Institutions would need to identify and carefully focus on the conflicts of interest in their particular business models that may create incentives to place their interests ahead of the interest of Retirement Investors. Examples of policies and procedures and conflict mitigation strategies are provided later in this preamble.

Costs Associated With Disclosures

This exemption is offered as a deregulatory option for interested parties; it does not unilaterally impose any obligations. The additional conditions of the exemption provide important protections to Retirement Investors, who are investing through tax advantaged accounts and are the subject of unique protections under Title I and the Code. The approach in the final exemption exemplifies the Department’s important role in protecting Retirement Investors through promulgating only those exemptions that meet the requirements of ERISA section 408 and Code section 4975. Section 604 of the RFA requires the Department to consider significant alternatives that would accomplish the stated objective, while minimizing any significant adverse impact on small entities. Title I and the Code rules governing advice on the investment of retirement assets overlap with SEC rules that govern the conduct of IAs and BDs who advise retail investors.

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Commenters cited the flexible, principles-based approach rather than a prescriptive approach to exemptive relief, and they also praised the proposed exemptive relief for a broad range of otherwise prohibited compensation types which they said did not favor certain market segments or arrangements. Many of these commenters supported what they viewed as the proposed exemption’s alignment with regulatory conduct standards under the securities laws, particularly Regulation Best Interest. The commenters said this approach would reduce compliance costs and burdens, which will ultimately benefit Retirement Investors through reduced fees.


A financial institution or investment professional that meets this five-part test, and receives a fee or other compensation, direct or indirect, is an investment advice fiduciary under Title I and under the Code. Section II requires Investment Professionals and Financial Institutions to comply with Impartial Conduct Standards, including a best interest standard, when providing fiduciary investment advice to Retirement Investors. In addition, the exemption requires Financial Institutions to acknowledge fiduciary status under Title I and/or the Code, and describe in writing the services they will provide and their material Conflicts of Interest. Finally, Financial Institutions must adopt policies and procedures prudently designed to ensure compliance with the Impartial Conduct Standards when providing fiduciary investment advice to Retirement Investors and conduct a retrospective review of compliance. The Department estimates that it will cost Financial Institutions about $0.2 million to print and mail required disclosures to Retirement Investors, but it assumes most required disclosures will be electronically delivered to Retirement Investors. The Department assumes that approximately 92 percent of participants who roll over their plan assets to IRAs will receive required disclosures electronically. According to one study, approximately 3.6 million accounts in defined contribution plans were rolled over to IRAs in 2019.

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Value investing is partly based on the idea that there exists a certain degree of irrationality in the market. They are bargain shoppers looking for stocks that they think are undervalued. The industry where the stock thrives is also considered by growth investors. For example, before making an investment in a tech company, they will consider the possibility of A.I. Investment strategies can be used by individual investors to create their own portfolios or by a financial professional assisting an investor. It is important to note that these strategies are not static, so they have to be reviewed regularly, especially when circumstances change. Stocks, bonds, annuities, commodities, real estate—I bet we all scratched our heads the first time we tried to know more about these financial terms.

Annuities promise to pay you a regular or fixed-interval income either immediately or in the future. You must first pay for the annuity in one lump-sum or through a series of payments also known as premiums. Investing is using your money as capital to buy assets that can produce more money for you in the future. If you want a more secure and brighter future for yourself, you shouldn’t put investing on hold. The company, its officials, and promoters might already have a reputation. Do a search online with the name of the company, officials, or promoters plus words like “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.” Look through several pages of search results. Statistics and testimonials can be faked.Scammers want you to believe their program is always successful.


Real estate crowdfunding is one way for retail investors to access assets traditionally reserved for the wealthy. Real estate investment platforms, including crowdfunding sites, pair developers and other real estate professionals with individual investors who want exposure to real estate without the hassles of owning, financing, and managing properties. The Department’s determination as to whether to grant the petition will be based solely on its discretion. The Department will provide a written determination to the Financial Institution that articulates the basis for the determination.