The United States Department of Labor issued a proposed rule that would expand the number of persons that would be considered a fiduciary for providing investment advice or recommendations in connection with retirement assets. Specifically, as proposed, any person who provides such advice or recommendations to an employee benefit plan, plan fiduciary, plan participant, individual retirement account, or IRA owner for a fee or other compensation would be considered a fiduciary, be subject to trust standards of care and loyalty, and could be held liable for a breach of such standards. Simultaneously, DOL proposed a new exemption to its so-called “prohibited transaction” rules that would permit firms and employees to continue to receive commissions and revenue sharing in connection with advice to retail retirement investors—defined as participants and beneficiaries of participant-directed employee benefit plans, IRA owners, and the sponsors of non-participant-directed plans with fewer than 100 participants. Firms and advisers seeking to take advantage of this new exemption—called the “best interest contract exemption”—would have to contractually acknowledge their fiduciary status, agree to comply with basic standards of impartial conduct, adopt policies and procedures reasonably intended to mitigate the harmful impact of conflicts of interest, and disclose certain information regarding their conflicts of interest and cost of advice. Certain activity would also be expressly carved out from implicating fiduciary standards: retirement education, order-taking and sales pitches to plan fiduciaries with financial expertise. In addition, DOL proposes a new exemption to permit advisers to sell certain debt securities on a principal basis from their own inventory to employee benefit plans and IRAs, and to receive compensation for providing loans to plans or IRAs to avoid failed securities transactions. DOL had previously proposed a change in the definition of fiduciary in 2010. DOL withdrew that proposal in connection with its issuance of its new proposals. DOL will accept comments on its new proposals through the 75th day following their publication in the Federal Register.