Publication Date



On April 8, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule (2016 final rule) that expanded the definition of investment advice within employer-sponsored private-sector pension plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Individuals who provide recommendations that meet the definition of investment advice are held to a fiduciary standard, which is a higher standard of conduct than for individuals who provide recommendations that do not meet the definition. Individuals who are held to fiduciary standards are required to act solely in the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries. Therefore, expanding the definition of investment advice may increase the number of individuals held to this higher standard. On April 7, 2017, DOL delayed two aspects of the rule’s applicability date by 60 days, from April 10, 2017, to June 9, 2017: (1) the expanded definition of investment advice and (2) the impartial conduct standard of the best interest contract (BIC) exemption. While these two aspects of the rule are currently in place, other aspects of the exemption, such as requirements to make specific disclosures and warrant policies and procedures and to execute written contracts, are to become applicable on January 1, 2018.


Suggested Citation
Topoleski, J. J., & Shorter, G. (2017). Department of Labor’s 2016 fiduciary rule: Background and issues (CRS Report R44884). Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service.