View From McDermott: DOL Re-Proposes Regulations to Expand ERISA ‘Fiduciary’ Definition

By and on July 7, 2015

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued proposed regulations on April 14, 2015 that would expand the types of investment advice covered by fiduciary protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Code). The proposed regulations would require advisers to ERISA-governed retirement plans and individual retirement accounts (IRA) to act as ‘‘fiduciaries’’ within the meaning of ERISA and the Code, subject to certain carve-outs identified by the DOL for nonfiduciary adviser services. Advisers that become fiduciaries under the proposed regulations would be subject to ERISA fiduciary duties and prohibited from engaging in certain non-exempt transactions. The proposed regulations are accompanied by two new class prohibited transaction exemptions and amendments to several existing class exemptions, which recognize the expanded scope of ERISA’s fiduciary protections under the proposed regulations while allowing advisers to continue certain types of transactions and existing fee arrangements that would otherwise be prohibited for ERISA fiduciaries. While the proposed regulations likely would have the greatest impact on the IRA marketplace, advisers to plan sponsors, and therefore plan sponsors themselves, are likely to be impacted. Comments on the proposed regulations are due by July 21, 2015.

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Brian Tiemann
Brian J. Tiemann counsels public and private companies on a broad range of employee benefit matters, including matters related to pension plans, 401(k) plans and executive and incentive compensation. He advises plan fiduciaries with respect to their fiduciary duties, investment policies and alternative investments. He also advises multinational clients on global employee benefits matters, particularly with respect to global incentive compensation plans. Brian has extensive experience negotiating investment management agreements and service provider agreements. Read Brian Tiemann's full bio.


Joseph K. Urwitz
Joseph (Joe) K. Urwitz focuses his practice on employee benefits, executive compensation and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary matters. He advises clients on a wide range of issues, including fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions, employee benefit matters arising in mergers and acquisitions, benefits issues unique to nonprofit entities, deferred compensation arrangements, equity award and bonus plan design, employment and severance arrangements, and qualified plan work. Read Joe Urwitz's full bio.

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