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Exam Takeaways: SEC and DOL Joint Exams

Exam Takeaways: SEC and DOL Joint Exams


Regulatory requirements and expectations for firms are constantly evolving; with that, examination practices are changing as well. An emerging approach to routine examinations includes exam teams from both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Labor collaborating on the examination.

This method has been used to evaluate advisory firms and who manage accounts subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which is enforced by the DOL. Here are some observations made by registered investment advisers regarding ERISA compliance:


  • A firm’s compliance manual must address basic ERISA policies and procedures for contracts, proxy voting, soft dollars, and any compensation for recommending certain investments
  • Contracts should include an ERISA provision, including fee calculation procedures, for all accounts
  • Disclosures and policies and procedures should address when a plan’s account is treated differently than other accounts (e.g. due to client restrictions, the type of advice given, trade allocations, etc.)
  • Some items on Form ADV disclosures may be affected, including those regarding fees, types of services, and types of clients
  • All necessary disclosures must be accurate and provided to clients
  • All ERISA accounts managed by the adviser should be made easy to classify and identify


If accounts managed by your firm are subject to ERISA requirements, it is possible that a future routine examination may include examiners from both the DOL and SEC. Contact Fairview with questions about exam preparation or ERISA compliance concerns.