When Does a Broker Become a Fiduciary?

There has been much discussion around the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, which looks like it will take effect soon. Basically, it would make registered representatives (brokers) fiduciaries to all retirement accounts. This is a change from the current “suitability” standard, which, while important, is not the same as a best interests duty of loyalty. At the moment, however, brokers can still step into a fiduciary role, depending on what they are doing for a client and how they are being paid (commissions v. fees). Here’s a diagram to help figure it out:



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