Fiduciary rule taking effect June 9, but enforcement delayed until 2018

On Monday, the Department of Labor announced implementation of the fiduciary rule will begin Friday, June 9, 2017, though enforcement of the rule will not begin until January 1, 2018. The “fiduciary rule” refers to DOL regulation changes aiming to protect investors, including participants in employer-sponsored 401(k) plans, by reducing conflicts of interest between financial advisors and fund providers. Most of all, the DOL regulations widen the scope of what is considered fiduciary advice, thereby creating more fiduciaries.

However, the long-term future of the rule is still in question. The Department of Labor is using the transition period from now until year’s end to determine whether the fiduciary rule would negatively impact retirement plans. Changes to the rule could still take place before the end of the year.

Here's a rundown of key deadlines and dates for the fiduciary rule in the coming months:

'Best interest standard' takes effect June 9, 2017 The so-called "best interest standard," requiring financial advisors to act in the best interest of clients, will be applicable at 11:59 p.m. local time on Friday, June 9, 2017.

Contract provisions must be in place by January 1, 2018 Language regarding best interest standards and any other stipulations under the fiduciary rule must be executed and effective by January 1, 2018.

Enforcement delay until January 1, 2018 The DOL will delay penalties under the fiduciary rule during the “transition period" set to run through the end of 2017. DOL's general enforcement approach to the June 9 implementation will be marked by an emphasis on compliance assistance rather than citing violations and imposing penalties.

Between June 9, 2017 and January 1, 2018, the DOL will not pursue claims against fiduciaries who are working diligently and in good faith to comply with the fiduciary duty rule and exemptions. During the temporary enforcement period, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not apply excise taxes and related reporting obligations with respect to the fiduciary rule. DOL still reviewing changes to fiduciary rule Despite going forward with the effective date for the fiduciary rule, the DOL is using the transition period to determine whether the rule would negatively impact retirement plans. Changes to the rule could still take place before the end of the year.

More is expected from the DOL on this subject in the near future. Please stay tuned for further announcements regarding the fiduciary rule. Have questions? Don't hesitate to contact a Plexus client service team member in Deer Park, Ill. (847-307-6100), Chicago (312-606-4800), Dallas (972-770-5010) or Oklahoma City (405-840-3033).