DOL Issues Field Assistance Bulletin on Fiduciary Rule Temporary Enforcement Relief

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2017-01 regarding adoption of a temporary enforcement policy of the fiduciary rule in recognition of transitional and other concerns. The DOL determined that temporary enforcement relief is appropriate to protect against investor confusion and related marketplace disruptions attributable to uncertainty regarding the timing of the DOL's decision on whether to delay the applicability date of the fiduciary duty rule and related prohibited transaction exemptions (PTEs).

The temporary enforcement policy establishes that:

  • If the DOL issues a final rule after April 10 implementing a delay in the applicability date of the fiduciary duty rule and related PTEs, the DOL will not initiate an enforcement action because an adviser/financial institution did not satisfy conditions of the rule during the "gap" period in which the rule becomes applicable before a delay is implemented; and
  • If the DOL does not issue a delay in the fiduciary duty rule and related PTEs, the DOL will not initiate an enforcement action because an adviser/financial institution failed to satisfy conditions of the rule by the April 10 applicability date, including sending out disclosures and other documents within a reasonable period after the publication of a decision not to delay the applicability date. The 30-day cure period will be available to financial institutions that did not provide disclosures and other documents to retirement investors.