Friday, October 17, 2014

DOL’s Advisor Crackdown ‘Careening out of Control’

[T]he DOL has unquestionably become more aggressive in its pursuit of potential offenders. The agency conducted more than 3,600 audits of qualified retirement plans last year. Settlements related to violations totaled $1.7 billion in plan reimbursements and fines.
Ashton, [a speaker at the Center for Due Diligence conference], went beyond merely expressing concern about potentially overzealous government investigators. He was disdainful of the DOL’s approach in a number of his observations. Among them:
  • The DOL has no qualms asking for information where it has no jurisdiction.
  • The DOL will contact an advisor’s clients. “They don’t seem to care how much disruption the process causes the firm under investigation,” he said. 
  • The DOL doesn’t have any sense whether its probe will go anywhere or not.
  • DOL investigators don’t seem to be very well trained, in some respects.
Ashton shared some of the details of a client’s experience to underscore his points. This particular client, he said, is a dual-registered broker-dealer and RIA who provides wealth management, investment advice to retirement plans and is an advisor to a mutual fund. ...