I have had the pleasure recently of making a presentation to the National Society of Compliance Professionals Midwest Compliance Meeting with Chris Guanciale of PlanMember Services. The NSPC is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to serving and supporting compliance officials in the securities industry. What we had to say to them was not particularly good news for these overworked professionals. 

There has been a distant relationship in the past between the application of securities law and the application of ERISA. See, for example SEC Release 33-6188 (among other releases) where the SEC describes its essentially "hands off " position with regard to retirement plans.

Over the past few years, with the new found activism of the DOL and the growing impact of retirement plans in the securties market (as of 3rd quarter last year, retirement plans-both ERISA and non-ERISA- had a value equal to about $16 trillion, which was some 88% of the value of publicly traded securities in the Unitied States. Individual account plans like most 401(k) and 403(b) plans, are a "mere" $4 trillion dollars of that total, or some 23% of the value of publicly traded securities), this distance has been "shortening". I have blogged a number of times on this point. 

So now we have the new 408(b)(2) regs, which I often term as potential "business busters" because they speak to the fundamental basis of doing business in this very large retirement plan marketplace: getting paid for the services provided. If you are in this business, compliance with 408(b)(2) is a fundamental issue, because it is a prohibited transaction exemption. Without compliance with 408(b)(2), the business often cannot receive some of their compensation for services related to ERISA retirement plans.

The sorts of things 408(b)(2) covers are at the heart of the Security Compliance Professionals’ practice: disclosure, particularly with regard to fees generated off of investments. It seems that "Compliance" is really the only institutional structure many financial firms have under which they can implement, manage and control their 408(b)(2) practices.  And any new "fiduciary" rules only further complicates this task.

Attached is the outline provided for this presentation. Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful.