This module covers the rules and regulations one should be aware of when working with qualified retirement plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Emphasis is placed on what it means to be a “fiduciary” and on the fiduciary standard that applies when working with employer-sponsored retirement plans or when advising retirement plan participants. Various fiduciary roles found under ERISA are addressed, as are the differences between the fiduciary and suitability standards. Finally, the new Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary requirements and expectations when working with retirement plan participants are covered.

1–1 Describe the basic standards required in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
1–2 Explain the required duties and expectations of a fiduciary and describe the various fiduciary roles found under ERISA.
1–3 Differentiate among the current standards for advisers providing investment and retirement planning advice.
1–4 Analyze the key components and requirements of the new Department of Labor fiduciary standard and its impact on advisers.

About the Author

Kristen MacKenzie, MBA, CFP®, CRPC® is an associate professor at the College for Financial Planning. Kristen has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, both as an active financial planner and as a provider of financial education. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in economics and later received her MBA at the University of Colorado. You can contact Kristen at

Complexity Level: Intermediate