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DOL proposes fiduciary rule exemption for some insurance intermediaries

The Department of Labor has issued a proposed rule that would make it easier for larger insurance intermediaries and agents to sell fixed-annuity products on commission.

The newly proposed rule is a class exemption to the DOL's fiduciary rule. As a condition of earning compensation that would otherwise be prohibited under that rule, this exemption would require the intermediaries and agents to acknowledge their fiduciary status in writing to those with whom they contract. They would also have to adhere to certain standards of conduct and fair dealing when they give advice. The intermediaries would not, however, have to enter into contracts with retirement plan investors.

In order to qualify for the new exemption, insurance intermediaries must have annual fixed-annuity contract sales that average at least $1.5 billion in premiums over the past three years. The Labor Department said the threshold is aimed at identifying intermediaries that have the financial stability and operational capacity to implement anti-conflict of interest policies and procedures as required by the exemption.