On Friday, March 10, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a field assistance bulletin (FAB) adopting a temporary enforcement policy regarding compliance with the ERISA Fiduciary Rule.
The ERISA Fiduciary Rule is set to go in effect on April 10. On March 2, 2017, the DOL submitted a proposal to extend the applicability date for sixty days and sought comments on the proposal. The DOL expects to issue a decision regarding the delay in the Fiduciary Rule in advance of the April 10 applicability date. However, due to the uncertainty of the delay and the potential changes in the law and policy concerning the fiduciary duty rule, the DOL issued the temporary enforcement policy to clear up confusion for advisers and financial institutions during this interim period.
The DOL's temporary policy provides that if the Fiduciary Rule's implementation is delayed until after April 10, the DOL will not initiate an enforcement action if an adviser or financial institution has not satisfied the conditions of the Fiduciary Rule during the "gap" period between the April 10 applicability date and the implementation of the delay.
The DOL's temporary policy also provides that if the Fiduciary Rule is not ultimately delayed, it nevertheless would not initiate an enforcement action against an adviser or financial institution for failure to satisfy the conditions of the Fiduciary Rule as of the April 10 applicability date. In that case, the DOL would allow advisers and financial institutions a "reasonable cure period" of thirty days.
We recommend that those businesses in the financial services industry continue to prepare for compliance with the Fiduciary Rule. However, the status of the applicability date of the Fiduciary Rule is uncertain, and financial professionals should stay informed of the situation.
This client alert is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this update, or for more information about this topic, please contact any of the attorneys in our Financial Services & Investment Management practice group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.