Although an RIA may not be compensated by a commission or revenue sharing, Form ADV requires disclosure to clients regarding potential conflicts and compensation arrangements. Hybrid advisors receiving commission compensation will want to ensure they are satisfying the BICE. Therefore as a best practice we recommend that even firms without commission or revenue sharing fees should provide notice to retirement clients that they are providing their services in the client’s best interest to uphold their fiduciary duty and review and update disclosures of any potential conflict of interest. This will ensure that you are availing your firm of the BICE and creating a presumption of compliance with the Rule.
5. If I’m an RIA and already a fiduciary, and serve ERISA qualified plans as a 3(21) advisor and 3(38) manager capacity, and already have level fees fully disclosed and transparent within Advisory Agreements. (408b2 compliant), how am I really impacted by the DOL Rule? The only thing I’ve read is needing to document rollovers if I will get compensated for the rollover into an IRA (versus keeping funds in a 401k Plan, for instance) – which I already do to some degree.
A: Correct. The ongoing receipt of a Level Fee such as a fixed percentage of the value of a customer’s assets under management, where such values are determined by readily available independent sources or independent valuations, typically would not raise prohibited transaction concerns for the Advisor.
Under these circumstances, the compensation amount depends solely on the value of the investments in a client account, and ordinarily the interests of the Advisor in making prudent investment recommendations, which could have an effect on compensation received, are aligned with the Retirement Investor’s interests in increasing and protecting account investments. However, there is a conflict of interest when an Advisor recommends that a participant roll money out of a plan into a fee-based account that will generate ongoing fees for the Advisor that he would not otherwise receive, even if the fees going-forward do not vary with the assets recommended or invested.
As stated in question 1, for a level fee fiduciary to recommend a rollover the Advisor should document information supporting the recommendation in the client’s profile. Additionally, if it is not already in the client agreement, the client should receive notice that the Advisor is a fiduciary acting in the client’s best interest. It is our view that this written notice can also be communicated to the client via Form ADV.
6. Are there any best practices yet regarding the type of disclosure of the compensation arrangement and conflicts of interest (slide 13) – which I already disclose in our Firm’s ADV?
A: The best practices regarding disclosure of compensation arrangement and conflicts of interest will evolve as we get closer to the full implementation date of this rule, January 1, 2018. That being said, if you are not a level fee Advisor and seeking to make use of the Best Interest Contract Exemption you will want compensation arrangements and conflicts of interest disclosed in a separate Best Interest Contract or as an addition to existing agreements along with the other requirements of the Best Interest Contract Exemption.
Also in the preamble to the final rule, the Department of Labor recommended the creation of web disclosure, which they state should contain: A schedule of typical account or contract fees and service charges, and a list of product manufacturers with whom arrangements have been made to provide payments to the Advisor, including whether the arrangements impact Advisor compensation. The DOL also suggests disclosure of the business model and the Material Conflicts of Interest, including payout grids and non-cash compensation and rewards.