Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule

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The Fiduciary Rule means that advisors need to more clearly demonstrate how they’re working in your best interest to help you reach your retirement goals, and show that they’re maintaining transparency and objectivity through the retirement planning process.

In recent months, you may have heard that the Department of Labor (DoL) has expanded its expectations under a new Fiduciary Rule. The rule clarifies how people will receive advice on retirement assets held in individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s and other account types, and requires that financial advisors are working in their clients’ best interest.

An important part of PNC Investments' business philosophy is to educate our customers and offer insight into events and issues that may impact their financial life. As such, here is some information on what the Fiduciary Rule means and the impact it may have on retirement accounts held with PNC Investments and other institutions.

When we seek medical advice, we expect our doctors to recommend treatments that are best for our health. When we seek legal advice, we expect our attorneys to work solely in our interest. We should expect nothing less when we seek financial advice.

— Thomas Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor

First, what’s the rule change?

The intent of the Fiduciary Rule is to ensure that those paid to provide retirement investment advice are acting in the best interest of the client. Common sense, right? At PNC Investments, we think so.

For many years, regulation has required financial advisors to act in accordance with a suitability standard (called FINRA rule 2111) when providing advice to clients with brokerage accounts. Suitability simply means that the advisor has “reasonable basis to believe a recommended transaction or investment strategy … is suitable for the customer.” The Fiduciary Rule goes further, requiring advisors to act under a stricter fiduciary standard. This means that financial advisors are required to put their clients’ best interests first. Product recommendations cannot be influenced by potential compensation or commission that the advisor may receive.

Video: Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule

What it means and how it could impact your retirement account


  1. from the Latin fiducia, meaning "trust," a person who has the power and obligation to act for another.

Are all assets impacted by the DoL rule change?

Here's a breakdown of common account types.

Account types subject to the rule

  • Traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and IRA annuities
  • Employer-sponsored IRAs like SIMPLE and SEP IRAs
  • Retirement plans subject to ERISA like employer-sponsored Traditional, Roth and Simple 401(k), pension and profit-sharing plans, and private sector 403(b) plans
  • Sole proprietor retirement plans like Keogh plans and Solo 401(k)s
  • Certain non-retirement accounts like Archer Medical Savings Accounts, Health Savings Accounts and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts

Account types NOT subject to the rule

  • Assets held in an investment account not designated as a retirement account like a general brokerage account or managed investment account (non-IRA)
  • Government retirement plans
  • Non-electing church retirement plans
  • Non-ERISA 403(b) plans
  • Health, disability and life insurance plans
  • 529 college savings plans

Always talk with your personal legal or tax advisor about your unique situation and accounts held.

Important Legal Disclosures and Information

This material is meant to educate and not to provide legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. PNC Investments and its affiliates and vendors do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice.

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