Will the DOL’s Proposed Fiduciary Rule Change Affect You as a Plan Sponsor?

Last Updated: February 16, 2016

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has submitted their final draft of the proposed fiduciary rule to the Office of Management and Budget for final review and approval.  This means that the final rule is likely to be published within the next several months.
In order to understand how the DOL’s proposed redefinition of the term “fiduciary” under ERISA will affect you as a plan sponsor, you must first understand the relationship you have with your current plan service providers. Do any of your current plan service providers, such as your plan’s broker, registered investment adviser, or record keeper, provide fiduciary services to the plan?  Are they a 3(21) co-fiduciary on the investment selection?  Or are they a 3(38) fiduciary where they have taken on the responsibility of choosing the investments for the plan? It is important to understand whether or not your current providers are acting as fiduciaries because of the higher standard of care this causes them to be held to, as well as the limiting of liability for the plan sponsor and/or their retirement plan committee. If you find that your current service providers are not fiduciaries, the question becomes, will the new proposed fiduciary rule cause them to now be a fiduciary?  To determine the potential fiduciary status of the current provider, it is important to understand the differences between the current rule and the proposed rule. Proposed Fiduciary Rule This could have the effect of changing the status of many plan advisers who are currently non-fiduciaries to fiduciaries.  This could be a positive for plan sponsors, however, because the adviser will be held to the higher fiduciary standard of having to make all decisions in plan participants’ interest and they must be made in a prudent manner.As a reminder, this is a proposed rule and there is still the possibility of the rule changing before it is final.  That being said, as a plan sponsor, you should use this as a reminder to look at your current service agreements and arrangements. Double check to see who is serving in the fiduciary capacity for your plan, and whether they are providing services up to the high fiduciary standard.To learn more about how this proposed DOL Fiduciary Rule change might affect you and ways you can mitigate your fiduciary risk, contact our ERISA Services Team.
PCI’s archived blog entries are dated, the rules and statutes referenced may have changed. The analysis or guidance within these blog entries may have become stale, dated, or no longer accurate. PCI will not update or change these entries to reflect the latest analysis or development.


Pension Consultants, Inc.



Read The First Chapter

Learn what it takes to build a successful retirement plan so your employees can retire on time and with dignity. A must read for any fiduciary.

We promise to never spam you or sell your information. For more, read our privacy policy or terms and conditions



A good plan measures
three key elements:
investments, and fees.


A good plan serves
employees and


Fiduciaries have a
responsibility to make
reasonable decisions
with their employees’
best interests in mind.

Ready to Evaluate Your Plan’s Performance?

How we can help


Speak with an adviser who can evaluate your plan in the three critical areas.


Understand how your current plan is performing.


Learn what you can do to improve your plan’s performance.