As most of you already know, 2010 was a banner year for the Department of Labor. In quick succession, the DOL issued three major pieces of guidance related to retirement plans. The DOL provided us with:

  • the service provider disclosure requirements under ERISA Section 408(b)(2);
  • the participant disclosure requirements under ERISA Section 404(a); and
  • proposed changes to the definition of "fiduciary" under ERISA Section 3(21).

All three will potentially impact, either directly or indirectly, each and every retirement plan practitioner.  However, due most likely to the timing of the release of these regulations and the relative complexity of the rules, many practitioners are having a hard time sorting out what applies to them.

Let's briefly discuss what this DOL guidance does, and does not, require.  In future posts, I will go into further detail about how each of these new regulations work and the associated potential issues.

The regulations under ERISA Section 408(b)(2) require "covered service providers" to retirement plans to disclose the services provided to such plans and the fees charged for such services. There is no requirement under the 408(b)(2) regulations whatsoever regarding the compensation one may receive and what services may be provided. The regulations are only concerned with disclosure and have nothing to do with level compensation, fiduciary status (other than disclosing whether or not one is providing services as a fiduciary), or investment advice to plans or participants.

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