The Employer Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) introduced the concept of fiduciary responsibility for those overseeing and dealing with private employee benefit plans. This course is designed to identify benefit plan fiduciaries, their roles, and their duties. Breach of fiduciary duty can lead to personal fines and lawsuits. Plan sponsors and trustees are at risk of being audited by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or Internal Revenue Service (IRS), paying fines or being sued by plan participants. This course is designed to help fiduciaries understand and carry out their responsibilities faithfully.
The definition of a fiduciary under ERISA has fluctuated in the past decade. In 2016, the DOL published a rule expanding the definition of who is considered a fiduciary, but the rule had mixed support, and the rule was vacated by a federal court in June 2018.
In December 2020, the DOL finalized a best interest standard (effective February 16, 2021), which is designed to align fiduciary duties with respect to employee benefit plans under ERISA with the fiduciary duties of registered investment advisers under securities laws. In April 2021, the DOL published FAQ guidance. This course aims to describe how fiduciary responsibility is determined after May 2021.