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Not since the enactment of ERISA has an issue generated as much interest as the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) proposed conflict of interest regulations. On April 6, 2016, the DOL announced new regulations that would expand the definition of ERISA fiduciary investment advice and apply a “best interests” standard to a broader range of investment services, including retirement investment advice and certain IRA rollover recommendations.
Throughout the extensive comment period and hearings, multiple stakeholders have weighed in—broker-dealers, investment providers, advisers, members of Congress, plan sponsors and participant advocacy groups—voicing their criticism or support. Thousands of pages of hearing transcripts, written comments to the DOL, and commentary in both industry publications and the mainstream media document the intense debate. The following are important considerations regarding the DOL’s conflict of interest regulations and how they could impact business models and relationships.