Financial Advisers and retail financial services firms face a number of challenges in dealing with the new fiduciary rule the Department of Labor announced this spring. But little did they know that they may confront the issues from their first contact with a potential client. That’s right—even before selling their advisory services, these new fiduciary issues pop up.
The final regulations made clear that merely recommending yourself to perform as an investment adviser is not in and of itself investment advice (often called the “hire me” exception). It is only when this solicitation is combined with an investment suggestion that the exception couldn’t be relied on.
However, the typical adviser is only offering their services to individuals who rollover their accounts to a new IRA on the adviser’s platform (or at least to an IRA compatible with it). And the final form of the regulation spells out that rollover recommendations are investment advice covered by the regulation. So, while “Hire Me” appears to offer some protection, this exception offers little real world solace to these advisers.
Instead, this exception appears to be an additional attempt by the Department of Labor to steer these advisers to the Best Interest Contract (or “BIC”) exemptions—of which there are several varieties. The good news is that the final BIC exemptions are far less onerous than had been previously proposed. But with deadlines quickly approaching for applicability of the terms of the regulations (April 10, 2017) and implementation of BIC policies (January 1, 2018), the race is on to put the right practices in place.