This is my third article about the interesting observations “hidden” in the preambles to the fiduciary regulation and the exemptions.

Under the Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE), the “financial institution” (e.g., a broker-dealer) cannot pay a fiduciary adviser (e.g., a financial adviser) incentive compensation that would encourage an adviser to make investment or insurance recommendations that are not in the best interest of a retirement investor. Needless to say, that requirement is highly disruptive to broker-dealers and insurance companies, since they often compensate advisers through commission payments (which are, by definition, incentive compensation).

But, the DOL’s concern about the impact of incentive compensation goes beyond payments to advisers. In the preamble to BICE, the DOL says the following about payments to managers and supervisors:

“As noted above, Financial Institutions also must pay attention to the incentives of branch managers and supervisors, and how the incentives potentially impact Adviser recommendations. Certainly, Financial Institutions must not provide incentives to branch managers or other supervisors that are intended to, or would reasonably be expected to cause such entities, in turn, to incentivize Advisers to make recommendations that do not meet the Best Interest standard. Financial Institutions, therefore, should not compensate branch managers and other supervisors, or award bonuses or trips to such entities based on sales of certain investments, if such awards could not be made directly to Advisers under the standards set forth in this exemption.”

As this indicates, the new rules will impact almost every aspect of the sales of investments and insurance products to plans . . . and especially to IRAs.