On Monday, the White House and the Department of Labor publicized efforts to target conflicts of interest in managing employee retirement funds. In essence, the Administration is promoting the DOL's much–beleaguered proposal to more broadly define who constitutes a “fiduciary” for the purposes of rendering investment advice under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). According to a White House fact sheet, the DOL will issue its proposed fiduciary rule in the coming months. Notably, the agency withdrew its initial fiduciary rule in 2011 after the proposal faced significant opposition from the employer community.
The DOL has launched a webpage devoted to this issue, which includes a video, set of frequently asked questions (FAQs), and other materials. While it is unknown whether and to what extent the re-proposed rule will resemble the one withdrawn four years ago, there is little doubt the circle of individuals considered fiduciaries will widen under the new regulations.
Employers that administer retirement plans covered by ERISA are advised to review the proposed rule when issued and take an active role during the notice and comment period.