Articles Tagged with IRA

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released its first set of rolling FAQ guidance regarding its new rules expanding the definition of fiduciary investment advice under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Code), adopting new prohibited transaction exemptions (PTEs), and amending certain previously existing PTEs. The DOL answered questions regarding the new PTEs and the amendments to existing PTEs under ERISA and the Code. The DOL also reaffirmed the applicability date of April 10, 2017, stating that this date provided adequate time for financial service providers to adjust to the rule changes.

One common area of confusion regarding the new rules was the extent to which the new Best Interest Contract (BIC) exemption would be available for use by discretionary investment managers. One of the conditions to use of the BIC exemption is that the fiduciary not have any discretionary authority or control with respect to the recommended transaction. This excludes a large portion of investment advisers that serve as discretionary investment managers. However, there are limited circumstances in which they can receive protection under the BIC exemption.

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In an effort to inform investors about common fraudulent activities involving individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”), the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) has issued an Advisory on third-party custodians of self-directed IRAs and other qualified plans. The advisory was issued to describe the roles and responsibilities a third-party custodian of a self-directed IRA has and to hopefully dispel some of the common misconceptions investors have about third-party custodians. In particular, NASAA warns investors that IRA custodians’ duties are limited to report information to the IRS, and such custodians do not provide any assurance that the IRA owner’s investments are protected against loss.

When creating an IRA, an investor must find an IRS-approved custodian for the account. Custodians are typically banks or brokerage firms. Once the account is opened, investors can deposit funds into the account and invest in opportunities available through the custodian. With a self-directed IRA, the investor has full control over what the funds in the account are invested in, unlike mutual funds or other types of savings accounts.
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